The Hospital Paintings

In 1998 my friend Christophe Cassidy, the well known Los Angeles painter, called me slightly breathlessly to ask if I’d like to share a studio with him. He’d had the good fortune to be given the use of an old hospital building in Beverly Hills while it was sitting empty, awaiting remodeling by the new owners. We drove down to visit the place on a cool evening in Autumn, dusk falling. It was an eight story building, all glass and concrete, opposite a prospering hotel. On the outside it looked just like any other tall office building. On the inside there was a different story: every internal wall had been demolished, leaving each floor a wide open, texture sprayed, concrete, football field sized area with cables dangling from the ceiling. There was no electricity to be found except for a single outlet which had somehow been overlooked on the eighth floor, which was only accessible by using a creaky elevator with a single flickering fluorescent tube. The floor, while wide open and spacious, was split by eight inch wide gaps which we guessed were designed for protecting the building during earthquakes; they separated each floor, so we could see down through all eight stories into the darkness below.

This was a very creepy place. My dog would sit growling and fixated on the corridor entering the top floor. I painted with my Smith and Wesson revolver on the table beside me. the building was doubtlessly haunted by the ghosts of all the souls of the people whose lives ended there.

Once we had the eighth floor studio space set up for painting we got to work, and that winter became one of the most productive periods of my painting life. In addition to making a series of ten huge commissioned portraits of well known rappers Master P, Snoop, C-Murder and Silk, I also made the paintings you see in this gallery. The members of the band Plexi visited and inspired much of the work, and my favorite model – the beautiful Lynn Hindman – posed several times. The prolific Los Angeles artist Michael Gorman, who taught me the value of allowing the accidents to happen as I paint, then controlling the outcome, visited and posed for me.

Michael Pearce, July 2008

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