Gem Rey

Ronnie Wood – This Guy Can Paint!

Ronnie Wood Collection

I noticed on instagram that Ronnie Wood had a pop up exhibition coming up in London. I’ve been caring for my Grandmother these past few weeks, months, so have not been going out quite so much. Perspective is a wonderful thing and when you realise that time is so limited, how I spend my time has taken on a whole new meaning. We will never get these times back again.
I mentioned the exhibition to my Grandmother and she looked up from her newspaper by her zimmer frame and looked me right in the eye saying:
“Oh now he IS good! Go and see that.”
I had planned to go on Friday, but then it got to Saturday, I was tired. I spent time with Granny going through some clothes and just having some together time.
“Have you been to see that exhibition yet?” She asked.
“Not yet, but I’d like to.” I replied.
“I think you should see it. Go.” She said.
“I do too, I’ll try and go on Sunday”, I said as I found a fun clip on earring and started trying things on.

So, Sunday arrived. I jumped on the train with no particular agenda on times. That’s what I love about Sunday’s, it’s my day. A day to just let time wonder and to let nature and art wash into your spirit and let you be free. Sunday’s no one expects to hear from you as you are ‘allowed’ to have that time. It’s your own.

The train was packed! Even though I’d casually ended up at the train station at whatever time I’d made it, clearly the whole world had the same idea! Trundling into town we all stood like sardines. I walked down Baker Street. It was lovely and quiet. So many shops closed for Sunday. I love seeing London like that sometimes. Space for the streets to breathe. To restore.

Looking at the numbers on the doors I upped my pace to get to number 35. Eventually I looked ahead and could see a lovely big glass window with paintings inside.

This is it. I arrived and was greeted by a lovely girl on the door who invited me in. As I walked inside wrapped up in my giant colourful scarf and one of my Grandmother’s amazing 80’s fluffy jumpers that she gave me and my coat – ok it’s freezing in town right now! Mitchelin man styles might be more to the point. I walked in and the curators gave me such a welcoming smile. There was a lovely girl with red hair who seemed to be running the show and she said out loud “We were just admiring your scarf!”
“Ha!” I laughed. “Thank you, it is a bit bonkers isn’t it!” I said.

Already it was like the ice was broken in the room and with a smile on my face I looked around at what was clearly a large variety of works that were now before me. It takes a few moments when you first arrive at an exhibition to get into the zone of what you’re looking at. The bustle and the hustle from the outside world, your own thoughts, ‘to do’ lists, the clutter, but suddenly you just exhale and accept the space from the outside to within and start to take it all in. Music and paint, what a great combination! It’s fun in here. Paintings of the Rolling Stones, by a Rolling Stone himself. As I went from art piece to art piece it was incredibly apparent at the range of styles of art that Ronnie is capable of. This could so easily have been a collaborative exhibition, but it’s all by this one guy.
The way he had drawn the band, I mean, they were perfect. The expressions, the vibe, you could practically hear the tracks rocking out of each painting. The clothes, the movement, so alive.

As a photographer I’ve spent years capturing bands on stage, and they are just that, ‘moments’. Ronnie has painted these moments, the theatre, the glamour, the sound. There is no battle in the mind over what you are looking at from impressionism to realism, there is an organic resonance in their tones and strength.

“Wild Horses”, I loved this. It stopped me in my tracks. The elegant, romantic power that horses represent, this painting really has it. It’s beautiful.

Further into the gallery were two lovely black and white paintings of horses with guitars overlaid into their shape. So well balanced and cleverly put together. Stunning curves, and such a marriage in their unity on paper.

Pool Hall Richard – Faces.
For a moment I thought Salvador Dali had gate crashed the show, then reminded myself on my sleepy Sunday that no gem, this is all by Ronnie Wood. The dynamics, the perspective, the movement, the light, the dark, a fascinating piece.

Play on Hands – This is gorgeous. I just loved it.

Ronnie doesn’t just do canvas and paper, he also had some bowls and plates that he has painted. One rather lovely pottery bowl painted with horses. Lovely textures and subject matter to complement it’s medium and design.

A giant wooden ‘yo-yo’ or cotton reel perhaps, on the ground at the back painted in all different coloured stripes. It’s fun. I liked it.

At the back of the gallery was an area with some much larger canvas paintings. Some beautiful forest scenes of trees and deer. So calming and beautiful in their forever England leafy abundance.

There was a smaller collection of figures with knee high socks on and long black hair. Such simple use of colour and strokes yet so effective in their definition.

I was captivated by a particular piece that is titled “Set Pieces”, Oil on Canvas. This one has lots of different work going on in there, and I found myself staring at it for a while just taking it all in. I got a little closer as there are areas in this painting that are textured. As my eyes moved across the textures, to my surprise I realised that within the angles, the guitar strings the brush strokes, was a leaf! Yes, a real leaf. Then I saw another leaf. Ronnie has stuck these leaves into the paint and they blend very well. This is a painting that just keeps on giving. There’s always something to look at. It is organic. It is bold. It is Ronnie Wood.

There was a cabinet that holds drawings of the bands hands. Hands are beautiful things. This I thought was very well done and something I personally loved. He’s captured the individuality of The Rolling Stones through these simple sketches.

Ronnie has a love of abstract modernism. These pieces stood very powerfully in the room. Moving away from the realism style of some of his works, these ones titled “Abstract II” and “Abstract III” are a clever and vibrant depiction of this iconic band. You first look at it and it’s figures and colours go into the contemporary art department, but the longer you look at it, the detailed personalisation and personality really breathes through these two pieces. The era, the style. Not an easy task to draw something like this in this way, but Ronnie absolutely nailed it.

The gallery was packed. There are so many works that I’ve not mentioned, the one in the window that’s about 1/2 a million pounds, the guitars on display that he’s painted, the watch face collection, there was so much in this one space, all by this one man.

I said my goodbyes and walked into town for a while. It’s Christmas after all, so I thought I’d pop into Selfridges to get a juice and found myself propelled back into the craziness of London at this festive time. The intense perfume, the sparkle. I don’t know how long I was, but I reached that point where I felt a gratitude to this day and it seemed time to make my way back home.
I called my Grandmother and told her that I’ve finally been to the exhibition and have a brochure for her so she can see the paintings. She was pleased. She told me to live each day to the full. She is my world right now, and knowing that I had done something on this Sunday that I could tell her about to also give light to her day, well, we helped each other through.

It wasn’t raining so I decided to walk back to Baker Street station. I was on the opposite side of the road to the gallery and as I past, I realised there was a crowd of people all holding up their phones and taking pictures. The girl on the door recognised me and waved.
Ronnie was in the gallery.
I crossed the road and she smiled and said, ‘You’re welcome to come in again, he is here”.
I walked back inside, all I could see at first was a sea of smart phones in the air. Of course! There was a lovely gent in black skinny jeans, long hair and a black hat, as I walked past him I said,
“Is Ronnie in there among all these phones?”
He looked at me and laughed and said,
“Yes! He’s painting at the back. Go and have a look”.
“Thank you”. I said.
I got as close as I could, but was still at the back, as I found my way to a gap in the crowd, there in the front, standing by a huge great canvas, painting these stunning swooping brush strokes, was the artist himself, doing what he loves the most. Ronnie Wood. I watched from afar. He was painting a horse.

As I walked back through the gallery, Mr black skinny jeans, long hair and black hat was standing there, “Thank you”. I said. “Are you a friend of Ronnie’s?” I asked?
He stopped and smiled and said, slowly, “Yes, I have performed with him a few times…”
I had that awful feeling come over me when you realise you should know who this person is, but have absolutely no idea. I then just decided to say it like it was and said, “I’m so sorry, please enlighten me, I have no idea who you are but think perhaps I should know…!”
“Jack Broadbent, pleased to meet you.”

Jack has been on tour with Ronnie and they recently performed here in London at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. I had wanted to go to this gig but had been home with my beautiful Grandmother. Some things in life have got to give, and I just had to be with her and say thank you to the Universe for the fact that she is still with us, for now, as cancer is a tough call for anyone, especially for a woman at the age of 96.

While talking to Jack a few fans came up to him asking for photographs. One guy nudged me and said “That guy is incredible.”
I had my camera with me and asked Jack if he’d like a photo. He said yes. So we stepped outside the gallery and I took a photograph of him.

Jack has a new album out, Moonshine Blue. It’s pretty amazing. Check it out.


To the gorgeous red head girl in the gallery who gave me a brochure to take home to show my Grandmother, and for giving me a much needed hug, thank you. Your welcoming vibe was much appreciated and you have given my Grandmother a visual treat to see too.

To Jack Broadbent. What a talented genius this guy truly is. A shining star ready to take on the world, and he is doing just that.

To Ronnie Wood, for opening his doors to the world to see the stunning works that he is continually creating both in sound and vision.
His message: “ When I take care of myself I can achieve anything”.
Yes, I believe that too. It would be lovely to photograph you one day too.

Thank you.

A great show. This guy can paint!


Gem Rey