This is my friend, the artist Bolan Chen's stamp. He lives in Japan now, we've lost touch the last couple of years now. He used to have a studio in Charing Cross Road, London WC1. It was a real ramshackle building, his was right at the top nearly opposite the Astoria. In the studio beneath was Y.B.A. sculptor Gavin Turk. He has limited English and I very limited Chinese, but we just got on very well and I'd meet him and we'd go out for dinner in the late nineties and then skip off to Bar Italia for coffee.
It's a long story how we became friends but it's because we both were amused by this mad fly posted image by the 'matchmaker', John Chin all over Chinatown in the 90's. Chin had photocopied and then coloured over his face until it had become bright red. As he photocopied photocopies he lost all sense of tone and he'd re black in his hair. It was a crazy and bizarre image. The above is a detail of an oil painting of John Chin by Bolan, this time with a vivid blue face. It's deliberately flatly painted. I forget how weird people find it.
Bolan was born in Shanghai. His father was a Beijing Opera star imprisoned in the cultural revolution. Bolan's house was taken over in the revolution and he lived in terror. He was not allowed to look at western art. His uncle secretly had stashed away some stamps under the floorboards which showed some work of French Impressionists. To Bolan these were the most beautiful, forbidden things he had ever seen and he decided then to make it to the West and paint. His paintings are haunting, beautiful and amazing. The John Chin is a little joke between us, a painting of a very bad photocopy.