Bratby, John - The Gorilla Within
A picture that roars!
This stunning work by John Bratby, the wild man of Modern British art, has been restored and reframed.
As well as painting, Bratby wrote lurid novels that were a kind of vivid, imaginary autobiography (though typically he always denied they were autobiographical). The most successful of these novels, titled Breakdown, was published in 1960. It central character is a dissolute artist called James Brady (nb same initials as the artist), who sets out to liberate his “gorilla within”. This painting, dated 1962, is a celebration of that same mighty ape - with a few simian courtiers thrown in for good measure.
Please note: the big round head of the beast in this picture looks much more like a human head that the dome-shaped head of an actual gorilla. In fact Bratby was very fond of gorillas; he painted the London Zoo’s famous gorilla called Guy several times and portrayed him as a noble, docile creature with a proper gorilla-shaped head - a quite different animal from the savage man-beast portrayed here.