ANDRÉ DURAND Twenty-First Century Paintings
TOO LATE FOR EDEN - THE ARTIST'S PARENTS
Dimensions: 102 X 183
Oil on linen
Collection of the artist
M. André François Durand &
Mme Margot Durand (née Pulham)
Before Easter 2008, a day after my father died, I blocked in this double portrait of my parents together, although they had been separated for some years. I have no real memory of my mother’s death. Nor do I have a clue how old they were but it has been suggested that Dad was one hundred and three. Since both my mother and father are alive in me and always present in my thoughts, such practical considerations rarely attract my interest. Their love has sustained me through the most difficult moments. They encouraged every brush stroke I made as a boy.
My father used to discuss painting (his passion was Rembrandt and Titian’s early paintings) with me in the early hours of the morning when the house was quiet. In the morning all the art books he had used to illustrate what he was teaching me were spread out in an orderly fashion on the carpet in his study.
Dad was a quite man most of the time one could say remote. It was recently that he told me his real name should not be Durand and that his real father was one Douglas Monk who died suddenly-a heart attack on Sherbrooke Street, Montreal.
So Daddy was a bastard.
My mother was witty and disarming, outgoing and perceptive she had had an ability to access people objectively after a brief look in their face. Perhaps that is the clue to how she taught me how to achieve a likeness, something Dad could never do when he tried to paint a portrait.
My parents posed to me often. I was eight when the first plausible portraits appeared. To Late for Eden is probably the last, unless there are some self portraits I have yet to paint which is probable.
The beautifully tanned couple, united by a braid that forms a figure eight the shape of the infinity symbol in the center of the composition, arouse curiosity. Some interpret the serene couple as my parents in their youth, other have seen them as my sister and I. Their prominence in the composition creates the ambivalence I seek in an image.