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Stone cold sober takes its inspiration from French artist Yves Klein’s famous 1960 photographic portrayal of himself apparently leaping from a city building. ‘I chose the Klein image not only because it has an element of humour and demands a suspension of disbelief, but because it is rich with possible interpretations’, says Pople. ‘For me, it represents not a stunt suggestive of suicide, but an act of over-whelming optimism and faith.’
‘My own leap of faith was taken almost five years ago, when I left behind my addictions of 30 years and chose to live “stone cold sober”. Today, I am again flying into the unknown: this painting is the last one completed in the Waterloo studio I’ve occupied for 20 years. Leaving its safe haven fills me both with trepidation and excitement. Sobriety provides an added edge to the experiences of life, a rawness and intensity that I find essential to the creative act.’
Born in Launceston in 1952, Pople undertook postgraduate studies in sculpture at the Slade School of Art in London and the New York Studio School. He has been exhibiting annually since 1978 and is represented in Sydney and Melbourne by Australian Galleries. This is his sixth time in the Archibald Prize.