He Is Silent Now
Oil on canvas
original oil painting
100cm x 74cm
I first met Aaron in the summer of 2017 in London. I had just visited the annual British Portrait Award at the National Portrait Museum when I saw Aaron. My first immediate impression was a fragile young man desperately trying to hide in the shadow of a wall as thousands of shoppers passed him by. To most he was invisible, most saw him but did not want to see him, they did not want to see such sadness, they did not want to put a face, a personality to this sadness, Aaron knew this and you could see that he felt that by hiding in the shadow he would not force people to ask themselves questions. He was embarrassed, he was outside the “human club”, he had accepted this rejection and did not want to make anyone shed any emotion towards him as he felt unworthy.
I went over to Aaron and started a conversation with him. He talked about his child hood and explained to me how he had ended up on the streets. He had to deal with constant mental battles. He was dominated by mental illness and I felt that this had above anything else chased him on to the dangerous and lonely streets of London. He was still being chased and just wanted it to stop. I felt desperately sorry for him and despite his hope I wandered as I left him how he would silence this screaming noise in his mind and perhaps return to a happy life, a life that he may have enjoyed as a seven year old. I was told once that when you beat yourself up and criticise yourself you should image how your seven year old self would feel. When I looked into Aaron’s eyes I could see his seven year self crying his heart out.
I titled this painting “He is silent now”, this is a reference to his seven year old self, he now has no voice, sadness has drowned him.