U2 SINGER Bono yesterday spoke about his decades-long friendship with the late artist Louis le Brocquy.
Bono and his wife, Ali, attended a memorial service for the painter in St Patrick's Cathedral last Saturday.Among the many figures from the arts world in attendance were the Edge from U2 and his wife Morleigh, Séamus Heaney, Robert Ballagh and John Boorman.
Yesterday, he fondly remembered the "walks, dinners and lunches" he shared with the artist, who called him an "old friend".
He also told how he had got a "bit of a fright" when the painter captured his likeness as a "big exploding head", and how, as a favour to Bono, he once passed on an autographed copy of U2's 'The Unforgettable Fire' album to his friend, Samuel Beckett.
"He was a kind of mentor to young artists. The fact that myself and Edge weren't painters didn't preclude us. He let us in, and Anne (le Brocquy's wife, the artist Anne Madden) as well. They were great educators," Bono said on RTE radio.
The frontman recounted how himself and his best friend, the artist Guggi, had attended exhibitions by le Brocquy as teenagers.
"Myself and Guggi used to go and see his work in our early teens. We couldn't believe it. We would stop and stare and try but we couldn't figure it out. We knew there was something going on and it was worth trying to understand, and these were these paintings of heads . . . That's when it started for us, the fascination."
His friendship with the painter began in his mid-20s when Bono "didn't know much about the world but he (Louis) seemed to know it all.
"He managed to slow down the molecules in everyone else. He spoke so calmly and everyone wanted that stillness. I am a much more kinetic and anarchic personality, so I was very attracted to that. Edge is a bit like him," he said.
The artist was to paint Bono on at least two occasions. One likeness, unveiled in 2003, now resides in the National Gallery.
"If you are a famous person, people just look at you. He seemed to look at the other you," Bono said.
"He was keen on meeting who you really were, and so when I saw that big painting of me in the National (Gallery), that was a bit of a fright. It was a big exploding head. I was thinking, I'm not sure I know where to put that head. It was a strange feeling, to be the subject of one of those paintings, and overwhelming,"he said.
The 51-year-old revealed how le Brocquy indulged him by talking about his friends Samuel Beckett and Francis Bacon.
"I used to bother him all the time about various characters like Samuel Beckett. 'What's he like,' I'd ask him. And he said, 'I should tell Sam about your work,' and I said, 'Really, would you do that?' So in about 1984 I signed a copy of U2's album 'The Unforgettable Fire' and I gave it to him. He told me Sam likes to know what is going on in Dublin, in music and film and everything like that."
- Ken Sweeney Entertainment Editor