Sometimes I run to my studio along the Bosphorus. A way to get my vision tuned afresh. The fishing boats are out casting their yellow spirals and pitching their tents on the silvery plains. Hot sepia tea is being served at the borekci near the studio, and the fish carts sell their wares outside the neighboring mosque. It only remains to pick up a fresh loaf from the local bakery for lunch, then into the studio for the day’s work.
So it was with interest that I discovered that 82 year-old painter Alex Katz, recently exhibited at Tate St Ives is a runner. Katz who describes his painting as both “aggressive” and “optimistic” includes giant flowerscapes as part of his recent work. Pursuing realism at a time when it was unfashionable to do so (alongside the Abstract Expressionists) his is a roving, cavorting imagination with a daring and disciplined “abstract grammar” that lend his images a force. I have been enjoying tracking his interviews, realizing that he was always the footnote in my study of Art History at university. Not unlike Richard Diebenkorn, another long time favourite painter.
Alex Katz talks about painting but he also talks about watching films, dancing with his wife and muse, Ada and about running. After a long day in the studio painting large canvases he rejuvenates by running.
Haruki Murakami in his book “What I talk about when I talk about running” points towards talent, focus and endurance as the key ingredients for both writing and running. AS one grows older, he says it is focus and endurance that keeps one in the race. To that I would add, the sheer pleasure of breathing.