Strange soirées


Diane Arbus, Transvestite at her Birthday Party, N.Y.C., 1969


‘For me the subject of a picture is always more important than the picture. And more complicated.’

Diane Arbus (1923-1971)


Boogie's 6th birthday party, 1978


All kinds of images fire up my imagination.

One photo in particular has intrigued me so much that I have created three different interpretations – it is a snapshot of my guy’s birthday party, illustrated above.

The first incarnation, party, was highly influenced by my love of Jean Dubuffet’s art.


Rona Green, party, 1995, lithograph, 17 x 30 cm, edition 4


Then there was Birthday Boogies, a mixed media piece including soft sculptural objects that I call poppets.


Rona Green, Birthday Boogies, 2002, mixed media, 27 x 35 x 3 cm


The poppets were born from a fondness for dolls, puppets and masks. As a kid I adored  The Muppet Show produced by Jim Henson, and the colourful characters of Warner Brothers and Hanna Barbera cartoons.


Jim Henson and Muppets


After Birthday Boogies came Secret Robot Society, which incorporated my fancy of the Dutch Golden Age of painting.


Rona Green, Secret Robot Society, 2002, linocut and watercolour, 49 x 70 cm, edition 13


Favourite artists from this period in art include Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Thomas de Keyser.


Rembrandt, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, 1632


Frans Hals, Regents of the Old Men's Almshouse, 1664


Thomas de Keyser, The Syndics of the Amsterdam Goldsmiths Guild, 1627


After making Secret Robot Society I produced two more prints – Treacherous Boys With Charisma and The Ventriloquist – to form a trio of group portraits.


Rona Green, Treacherous Boys With Charisma, 2003, linocut and watercolour, 49 x 70 cm, edition 13


My creative process is very much about collaging together an eclectic range of source material to invent something otherworldly and somewhat absurd.


The dashing Bela Lugosi


The debonair Vincent Price


In the case of these prints I have referenced the Dutch painters along with TV shows, horror movie stars, dolls and puppets, as well as ideas about social hierarchy and esotericism.


Rona Green, The Ventriloquist, 2004, linocut and watercolour, 49 x 70 cm, edition 13


Old time ventriloquist


Thunderbirds - Brains and Scott


And finally I should make mention of the beloved Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book!


The Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book


Boogie's robot cake à la The Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book


PS: From now on I will be posting every Tuesday – until then, have a good week!


Who do you love?


Jean Dubuffet, Self Portrait, 1966, marker pen on paper


‘For a very long time I was too humble […] and lacking in confidence and composure; and I suffered cruelly because of this, appearing in my own eyes to be nothing more than the most abject dog turd. It was only at a late stage – when in the end I had resigned myself to living like a dog turd without shame or regret and making the best of the situation – that it dawned on me that everyone else was also a dog turd.’

– Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985)


Portrait of Jean Dubuffet by Marc Trivier


I love Jean Dubuffet.

While studying at university, one afternoon in the library when flipping through books in the art section, I turned a page and saw a reproduction of Man Eating a Small Stone by Dubuffet.

It turned my world upside down.


Jean Dubuffet, Man Eating a Small Stone, 1944, lithograph


Early in his life, Dubuffet was influenced by the German psychiatrist and art historian Hans Prinzhorn, and his book Bildnerei der Geisteskranken (Artistry of the Mentally Ill) published in 1922.


Hans Prinzhorn 1886-1933


Dubuffet collected an enormous amount of work by psychiatric patients, prisoners and children. He invented the term Art Brut (raw art) for the work produced by these non-professional artists. The collection is now housed at the Musée de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland.


Heinrich Anton Müller, Man with flies and snake, c 1920s, crayon drawing


Adolf Wölfli, Saint Adolf wearing glasses, 1924, pencil on paper


Dubuffet once declared ‘For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.’


Jean Dubuffet, Pisser at the wall, 1945, lithograph


Jean Dubuffet, Bertelé Mondain, 1946, oil on canvas


Jean Dubuffet, La belle encornée, 1954, oil on canvas


Jean Dubuffet, Le deviseur II, 1969-1970, epoxy resin and polyurethane paints


Jean Dubuffet, Cabinet Logologique, 1967-1969, epoxy resin and concrete with polyurethane paints


Jean Dubuffet, Closerie Falbala, 1971-1973, epoxy resin and concrete with polyurethane paints


Jean Dubuffet, Portrait d'homme, 1974, mixed media on paper


Jean Dubuffet, Mêle moments, 1976, mixed media on canvas


Jean Dubuffet, Jardin d'émail, 1974, epoxy resin and concrete with polyurethane paints


One of my most ecstatic art moments was visiting the Kröller-Müller Museum when in the Netherlands and encountering Dubuffet’s Jardin d’émail. Indescribable.


Rona Green atop Jardin d'émail


Dubuffet expressed that ‘Art should always make us laugh a little and frighten us a little, but never bore us.’


Jean Dubuffet driving some hot wheels


Put simply the guy is mind-blowing and his effect upon me has been profound.


Rona Green, party, 1995, lithograph


So, who do you love?