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Here I Am
The Ronnie Wood Art Exhibition
Karlsruhe, Germany
July 2 - August 15, 1999

Here I Am - Konzerthaus, Karlsruhe, Germany
by Nikki Sudden

The seventh or eighth German exhibition of Ronnie Wood's artwork opened at the Konzerthaus in Karlsruhe on July 2nd. The venue will be showing the collection of screenprints, drypoints and etchings until August 15th. Entrance price is DM 12 and the show is open every day except Mondays. Also on display are odd pieces of Stones' paper memorabilia such as tour posters and signed photographs. Particularly interesting is a small sketch of a nude torso by Keith Richards.

This collection of Ronnie 'Rembrandt' Wood's showcases both the best and the worst examples of his talents. From the rich colours of 'Keith and Ronnie on stage, 1981' through 'Beggars Banquet II' to the poster-shop art of his early lacklustre 'Decades' series. There's also one 'original' work-a pencil drawing of Rod Stewart signed by both of the ex-Faces.

The most affordable offerings in the show are 'Josephine'-a self-portrait with wife Jo, 'Thinkin''-Ber-nard Fowler and 'Somebody Else'-U2 guitarist, the Edge. These are priced at DM 500, DM 450 and DM 400 respectively. I picked up a copy of 'Josephine' at the Cafe Stadtplatz show in Imst the day of the Stones' show. The picture I'd most like to get, finances allowing is 'Keith and Ronnie on stage, 1981'-the price? DM 2,700! The most expensive item on sale is 'Eric Clapton III' priced at DM 14,900. According to Ronnie's art dealer, 'both the Clapton fans and the Stones' fans snap up pictures like this'. The last few copies of a particular run see a fast rise in price so it's always advisable to buy as soon as something takes your fancy, rather than waiting until the last possible minute.

Among the best of the works on display are a few pen and ink sketches-lamentably not the originals-which are almost hidden away in one of the wings of the Konzerthaus. These include a 1972 drawing of Kenney Jones entitled 'Good Times' and a revealing little effort drawn in 1976 picturing Woody's then manager Bob Ellis in conversation with wife Krissie. There's also 'Herren', a picture of a half-naked girl looking through a hole in a men's room door. Best of all is a wonderful little piece with the quaint title of 'Farewell Peas' which is a drawing of the last days at Ronnie's 1970's Richmond home. This shows a bed lined with amongst other things, a covered wagon, a cactus, a Model T Ford disappearing into the sunset leaving behind a figure dying of thirst. This drawing was apparently Woody's attempt to capture the feelings he had upon selling The Wick to move to Los Angeles in 1974. These show a real talent, as did the artist's early sketches made while he was with the Faces, none of which are unfortunately on display here. As with the recent book 'Wood On Canvas', this exhibition once again slightly manages to miss the complete picture of Wood's work.

The task of promoting Ronnie Wood's work in the German speaking countries lies in the hands of Ulrich Schröder. Schröder, who views Woody as a 'multi-talent' touched by 'the spirit of rock and roll', has been a Stones' fan since the mid '60's. He first met Ronnie in the'70's and saw some of his pictures at the time. None were for sale in those days and Uli was one of the first to help out with suggestions as to how the guitarist could make more of a sideline of his art. As well as selling Ronnie's work Schröder also deals in prints of Sebastian Krüger's work-four of Krüger's caricatures of the Stones are included in the show-and works by German musician Udo Lindenberg.

Although the exhibition is titled 'Here I Am' a better title could have been 'I'm Not Here' because for the biggest exhibition of his work ever in Germany Ronald David Wood was conspicuous by his absence. Since finishing the Bridges To Babylon tour Woody 'escaped' from the Hotel im Wasserturm in Cologne and is currently busy, according to his son, Jesse James Wood, in England doing further paintings.

So although Ronnie was not there in person to launch the show he did send his eldest son and his band, Glyda, as his representatives. Glyda, a six-piece band that Jesse claims are influenced by Steve Wonder, Jamiroquai and Bob Marley played at the launch party on July 1st. Jesse, although having quite a few of his father's mannerisms, comes across on stage as quite a shy individual. His rôle in the band is that of rhythm guitarist and the band's leader and main songwriter is one Will Jones. At first thoughts Glyda sounded like a cross between 'Song Of A Baker' era Small Faces mixed with Derek and the Dominoes and the soul-funk material of the "Eat It" period Humble Pie. A few slight touches of Ocean Colour Scene also lay reflected in the music. But by the end of a somewhat overlong show-which'll be broadcast on VH1 on August 15th-the music was at times degenerating into pure cop-show music. If Jesse wants to pursue a career in music one would suggest that he takes more of a hand in the songwriting and singing. He does play a fine enough rhythm guitar though. Will Jones is a very forceful singer in the Steve Marriot vein-a bit too egotistic for my tastes but still a very good frontman.

All in all the exhibition, which includes 88 of Ronnie Wood's works, is well worth catching, particularly if you'll be passing through the South-west of Germany or even the South-east of France during the next month. Karlsruhe nestles pretty close to the German-French border. Bring some money with you for even if you can't afford one of the originals there are still Stones' posters, postcards of Wood's works and assorted ephemera for sale.

General information and links

On July 7th there will be a TV special about Ronnies art and the exhibition in SWR3 Kultur Südwest 10.35pm-11.05pm.

See the Here I Am Ronnie Wood web site made for the exhibition.

For exhibition details (in German) see Karlsruhe Kultur

Other Ron Wood art places:

See also The World of Ronnie Wood


Thanks to Klaus Lauterbach, Nikki Sudden, Elmar Frühe Peter Zehner and Mike for supplying info about the Ronnie Wood exhibition!

Read more about The Rolling Stones in the It's Only Rock'n Roll magazines. New issue IORR 37 out August 15, 1999.

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