How do you survive a fire? The YBA Richard Patterson lost four paintings in the east London Momart warehouse fire that destroyed much of Charles Saatchi's art collection in 2004. Losing art works like this is devastating for any artist –Tracey Emin's tent and works by Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Gary Hume were also lost. Patterson has painstakingly remade one of these paintings and it will appear in a new show at London's Timothy Taylor Gallery this month.
Your Own Personal Jesus from 2011 (pictured) is the remake of Motocrosser II (1995) in which a plastic motocross toy is covered in brightly coloured oil paint and then used as a model for his painting. The original painting was shown in the Royal Academy's Sensation exhibition in 1997 at the Royal Academy of Arts. “The loss of the original painting, Motocrosser II, was something of a blow to me. It was one of four large-scale paintings of mine that were owned by Saatchi at the time, which seemingly went to heaven and hell in no particular order. They were consecutive paintings that back-to-back took me two years to make,” says Patterson.
“At the time, I was still recovering from the death of my father, the closure of Anthony d'Offay Gallery that represented me at the time, as well as the upheaval of relocating to New York just after 9/11 – so in one respect, it was just another chunk of life sliding off the chalky cliff into the Channel.”
When Patterson – once a motorbike enthusiast – came to remake the painting 15 years on, it was much harder to do than he imagined. “It's very hard to go back. In fact, you can't go back. The painting took me about six times longer to do the second time around, because I work to a standard that involves making something as well as I can possibly make it,” he says.
Is he pleased with the second version? “It is far more refined than the first – this doesn't necessarily make it better, although in this case I believe it is. You think you're replacing a part of your own history, but in reality you're adding another episode.” He has lost valuable time. “The time it took me to make the second one, means that the paintings I should have been making in 2010-2011 never got made. Which means I'm out of sync with the world now.”
Patterson's paintings are seen rarely in the UK – he now lives and works in Dallas – and this show is an overview of the past 15 years of his work.
Richard Patterson, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London W1 (timothytaylor gallery.com) 19 April to 1 June