Will Self, Marc Quinn and Malcolm McLaren play Exquisite Corpses

A series of figures, painted in sections by different artists and writers for charity, is based on the parlour game, Consequences, invented by the Surrealists, and has resulted in some fascinating collaborations

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I began curating Consequences in 1993 – a more innocent time, in terms of painting and the art world, and it seemed like a good idea... The paintings are based on the non-competitive chance drawing game Consequences, a game invented by the Surrealists, based on an old parlour game. The game is also known as ‘Exquisite Corpses.’ A figure is drawn in three sections: one person draws a head, and a second and third person each draws a torso and legs respectively. At no point during the making of the drawing does anyone see the contribution of his or her predecessor until all the sections are completed. For this exhibition the game is played by invited artists, faithfully following the rules, but working in paint on canvas on a large scale, 96 x 48 inches (243 x 121 cm).

In the context of issues around drug and alcohol abuse, there could be a punning relationship between the title, Consequences, and the consequences of drink and drugs addiction. There are a lot of consequences of drink and drug abuse, of course, causing immense personal and social problems. (There could also be some kind of punning relationship with the name ‘Exquisite Corpses’, but I think this might be taking dark humour a little too far for comfort.) But the subject of drink and drugs was not imposed on the artists, and they had complete freedom to do whatever they wanted. Which they did, fantastically. 

In 1995 Will Self and I devised a charity fundraising event entitled Atoxia 95, which included a showing of Consequences. Action on Addiction (it was called the Addictive Diseases Trust, then) was one of the beneficiaries. Money was raised by admission charge, meaning that, with one exception, this is the first time the works have ever been available for sale. Some sections of the works have been updated since 1995, with incomplete or damaged parts replaced with fine new work by Jake Clark and Benedict Pulsford. ConThios painting is by Neal Brown (top), David Medalla (middle) and Heathcote Williams (bottom) collaborate on this painting 

This painting is by Neal Brown (top), David Medalla (middle) and Heathcote Williams (bottom) for Consequences

The painting by Benedict, Will Self and Ricardo Cinalli is a wild mixture of styles. Benedict is completely painterly, whereas Will Self’s contribution is graphic – Will used to be an excellent cartoonist. Ricardo uses oil pastels in a style of improbably good virtuosity. I contributed a cowboy head to the painting with David Medalla and Heathcote Williams, based on a drawing I did when I was a child, and which was the begininng of the Consequences series. David and Heathcote are beyond category in contemporary art and poetry, and I hope people realise the enormity of these two genuinely venerable, cultural heroes being together on the same canvas.

I’ve curated other art shows. Billy Childish at L-13, a show entitled To The Glory of God: New Religious Art at the Liverpool Biennial, and a show currently on at Arthouse 1 of Benedict Pulsford’s work entitled New Abtrscat Painntitg (we deliberately misspelt the title, to have fun). I also curated a show about Princess Diana at the Blue Gallery, London, with Tracey Emin and Alison Jackson. But Consequences is particularly important to me; not only because it is my first ever curated show, but also because of the beneficiary, Action on Addiction, whose work with addicts, family and government, I admire greatly, and would like to support.

Julie Goldsmith (top), Emma Douglas (middle) and Caroline Younger (bottom) painted this artwork

The other artists are Siobhan Collett, Emma Douglas, Julie Goldsmith, Josephine King, Sam McEwan, Malcolm McLaren, James Moores, Marc Quinn, Emily Young, and Caroline Younger. (There are also some very kind sponsors involved.) It’s an eclectic coming together of very inventive and creative minds, all of who have generously given their time to Action on Addiction.  

The complete painting by Will Self, Ricardo Cinalli and Benedict Pulsford for Consequences 

But, unfortunately and embarrassingly, the show currently lacks one painting, a great one by James Moores, Marc Quinn and Malcolm McLaren. This painting was donated to a charity fund raising auction for Action on Addiction in 2001. David Bowie headed the committee, and Sotheby’s conducted the sale. But I never acquired an image of the work, and Sotheby’s have since struggled to track the sale down, or introduce me to the client who bought the work, so I could request the loan of it for this show. I’m hoping an image, at least, arrives from Sotheby’s for the opening. It’s all a bit of a cliffhanger, really. So, if the client who bought the work from Sotheby’s is reading this, perhaps he or she could kindly give me a call... pronto.

Consequences is at Neal Brown Fine Art, 26 Greville Rd, London NW6 5JA, 11 and 12 March or by appointment until 2 April (neal.neal@virgin.net)