Designer Jasper Conran describes the allure of a painting by Christopher Wood that has become his favourite possession
‘I have always loved Christopher Wood; he touches a nerve with me. There’s something primitive yet sophisticated — both knowing and unknowing — about all his work, and this particular picture is, I think, a really, really beautiful Wood.
Not all of his paintings are perfect. A lot of what he was doing was experimenting; you can see he incorporated various influences — from Picasso, Ben and Winifred Nicholson, the primitive Alfred Wallis and others.
‘He tended to be unashamed in the way that he went about experimenting with these different styles. He might be referencing Van Gogh, he might be doing Picasso — but he always had his own style in there as well.
‘I recognise something familiar and comforting in this painting. It has a certain lack of sophistication, yet sophistication is there’
‘He was taken up by Picasso and Cocteau when he lived in Paris, and back in England he was much admired by the Nicholsons. They definitely all saw him get off to a great start, although he was very young — just 29 — when he died. They weren’t the sort to hang about with people with no possibilities or emerging talent.
‘I think somehow I recognise something familiar and comforting in this painting. It does have a certain lack of sophistication, yet sophistication is there — there is something absolutely charming about it. I bought it four years ago, and of all the things I own, this is my favourite object. It gives me pleasure all the time. And I’ve always loved dahlias! I see this painting every day because it is also my screen saver, so every time I answer my phone, there it is.’