The Collector#14

Adam Simon / John Dougill


We were in London for a week or so and went to visit Vanessa Jackson, an artist Michele had gotten to know at a residency in England. After visiting her studio, Vanessa took us to the studio of her husband, John Dougill. At some point one of us noticed a stack of small paintings on a table. There must have been fifteen paintings stacked almost four feet high. John said that they were paintings he wasn’t happy with, waiting to be painted over. Of course we started going through them. We both thought this one was beautiful. Then I happened to glance out the window. The neighborhood was undergoing a lot of development. Directly outside his window we could see a series of enormous metal uprights that would support additional floors in the office building that was under construction. The light and the view from John’s window would be blocked. I realized that a painting I had taken as a minimal abstraction with a delicately built surface actually described what John was experiencing at the time. I was amazed by its economy and the way that it carried so much content without an obvious narrative arc. When he saw how much we both liked it, John, said, “You can have that.”

Adam Simon
May 10, 2020



“The Collector” is an ongoing series in which I ask people to talk about a painting or a drawing they own. See other installments here.

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