By Carla Tofano
By Boyko Grigorov, London, September 25, 2017
A call came from Carla Tofano, one of the founders of AMC (Art Model Collective) while I was on holiday in the summer. I was invited to a life modelling session themed after Charles Bukowski and his muse – The Most Beautiful Girl In Town. She had already what it takes. I looked myself in the mirror and saw a slight resemblance of Bukowski. Similar age-that was the most notable? As for poetry – hmm, not so good and famous, but I still keep some dried out ‘plumes’ in a drawer.
How wonderful! I was full of expectations and wished to cut short my holiday and rush for London. Pity – the event was scheduled for mid-September. Anyway, I updated my diary in all formats – paper, digital and carved stone. Flintstone is not alone!
We communicated with Carla on number of occasions. She was thorough in her meticulous way of organisation. The week before the event we exchanged a few messages, reminding ourselves what to take to the evening. Props for both, lighting, music etc.
All the PR work was done, FB pages were advertising the event and a good attendance was guaranteed.
On the day I head for the venue, Underdog Gallery, one of the arches under a bridge, in the shadows of the Shard, near London Bridge Station. Wonderful place for all sorts of arts – drawing, music, theatre. I was the first one, apart from the bartender. Not aware that there was a bar, I took a bottle of wine in my bag, wrapped up in brown paper. And meant to drink it this way? Alas, the plot was different.
Carla arrived, we hugged as old friends and chatted in the attic above, where I changed swiftly and she did what it takes to bring herself to the character she would model. We quickly reached to agreement as to the poses in the first and second part. On the stage we had a small table, an ancient typewriter, books and sheets of paper with printed actual poetry of Bukowski. A small couch was also there. Muses are to inspire, and Carla intended to do her best. I was to wear pyjama pants and a dishevelled look.
In the first part we opened up with a 10 mins pose. Introduction to the character of Bukowski. Standing by the table and holding a book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, I was engrossed in some inspirational reading. (The book and the wine were real!)
Then we did a 20 mins pose. And that was me sitting behind the typewriter and typing vigorously. Of course I was still. Carla in her underwear, standing still with her back to me. Her head turned slightly towards the audience and me. As if saying, ‘Whatever you do, I am here. Ehoo…’
Amazing photography from Toby Deveson would give you an idea as to the drama going on.
Then we progressed to the final pose of the 1st half. It was to be 30 mins pose.
I am standing or rather half sitting on the table, holding a fresh sheet of paper with ink still wet, reading to Carla what I believe was the best poem I’ve written, ever! Carla lying on the couch in her underwear, was leaning on one elbow and holding a bottle wine to her mouth with the other hand. I felt for her, it was very demanding on both arms and elbows. The bottle was half full, but still. She performed perfectly ok. People were moving around trying to find the best viewing position.
During the break, I moved swiftly to take some photos and chatted with the artists. I even found a few girls from Bulgaria? How strange. It is not very common to find compatriots in life drawing session. Although I know a couple of very good professionals in London. Very encouraging.
The 2nd part was to start with a 10 mins intro pose. Carla was sitting on the couch, and I was standing above her with my left hand trying to push the bottle of wine in anger into her mouth, and the right hand holding a squashed piece of paper (the poem just written). It looked like I was trying to punch her. It wasn’t the intention though. The intention was to show her the importance of my work, now torn down to nothingness. It went very well. We tried to avoid direct eye contact and not burst into laugh.
Next pose was a 20 mins pose. She is lying on her side, nude on the couch, her bottom seductively raised high in the air, head turned back as if to meet my gaze.
I, pissed off her indifference, am sitting on a chair, a glass of wine in my left hand and holding my head with my right one. Notice the way I am holding the glass. I am actually covering the glass with my hand? I hated everything and everyone. My back turned to her. That supposedly should have infuriated her, but she shows no emotions. Great scene, I reckon. Later that was confirmed by the audience. And some good works were produced.
And the last pose-30 mins- was the most dramatic. We tried to scale the emotions up and down. I am on my knees holding her tight. So tight that at some point we lose balance, and have to re-adjust. She is holding my head and body close to her tummy. I can hear and feel her heart beating, her breathing. The pose was to represent my regret and my devotion to my muse. I totally surrender my alfa male pride, and embrace her with all my love and dedication. I beg for mercy, I cry for forgiveness, I shout loud ‘Stay with me my love, I need you, I love you with all my heart’.
And she understands. She is caressing my head and shoulder and her love transpires.
I was about to faint…
It was a very emotional evening, and we ended up drinking some more wine and chatting up. A great venue, and a very good experience I got. My first themed life drawing session, a bit different but wonderful nevertheless.
So long Underdog Gallery. I’ll be back.
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