If you’re very blunt cities are just a collection of buildings, roads and infrastructure where people happen to live and work; they’re essentially just a theatrical backdrop to the daily dramas of each individual’s life – but I like to think they’re more than that.
Cities aren’t just backdrops, they define cultures and movement, some much more so than others. For years certain cities have grabbed their denizens and shown them the lights, whether it be London, Berlin, Köln, New York, Paris or Florence the greatest artistic, political and cultural movements have sprung forth from the cities that spin their inhabitants like whirling dervishes into creative thought and action.
Take the naturalistic beauty of Florence; this is a city that has inspired generations of not just artists, but real masters. You think of Florence and you think of the whole Florentine School cabal which – amongst others – gave us Donatello, Botticelli, Masaccio and Michelangelo; and to this day artists flock to Florence to be inspired, to take in the winsome tuscan countryside, the exquisite architecture and the delicate palette of colours, smells and tastes that float through every Florentine street and piazza.
Or consider the roaring seething orgy that still is Berlin – through generations this city has inspired biting satire, political activism and an art scene that could only be described as brutally honest portrayals of the world around them. Politically this is the city that saw the rise of Communism and National Socialism in the 30s, during the cold war it saw political activism like nowhere else with a plethora of strong protest groups and even today real dissent and anti-government feeling ferments with activists still keeping Angela Merkel’s coalition quite firmly on its toes. Artistically, this political melting pot drives the art scene, from the vicious social commentary of George Grosz or Kathe Kollwitz to the glorious revelry in the debauchery of the cocaine fuelled metrosexual nightclubs as portrayed by Otto Dix; and more recently the free-wheeling poor but sexy Berlin as captured so marvellously in my opinion in the joyous canvases of Ann-Kristin Hamm.
London again twists its inhabitants, the driving ever-changing scene in London opens new doors every day; one person’s crap is another person’s treasure, from the decaying East End of the 1980 that inspired the mega-canvases of multi-cultural faces in Gilbert & Georges seminal work ‘Are you angry, or are you bored’ to the gawking polemic on Britain’s celebrity obsessed culture embodied so well in Damien Hirst’s ‘For the love of God’ (better known as the diamond encrusted skull). Over and over again London like Florence or Berlin has allowed a level of expression that no other city in its shadow could foster. It’s taken in the waifs and strays and given them a canvas to play with: and that – that – is why we love our cities.
Vivid London – it’s not just a name: it defines us, the city we’re based in hones our approach. Life should be Vivid, and London inspires us. It truly is a vivid city; the cultures, languages, art, theatre, cinema, architecture, the whole simmering mass is exciting to be in – and because of that creative thought thrives.