In 2019 I was invited to Rome to see a huge mural by Giacomo Balla that had just been rediscovered. He had painted it in 1921 for a Futurist nightclub called the ‘Bal Tik Tak’on the Via Milano. The site was being turned into a museum and the mural had been found under the old wallpaper. It covered the walls and ceiling of the entrance and staircase.
A visitor to the club said ‘the walls themselves seem to dance; large architectural lines intertwine in unflinching shades of light and deep blue, which are unrelentingly bright, like a carnival in the sky.’ At the opening, Balla wore a tie made of celluloid plastic illuminated by a light bulb. The jazz orchestra created a sensation when it introduced the saxophone to Roman nightlife.
It was exciting to see the mural while the conservators were still working on it - in that state it seemed very old and new at the same time. It had the texture of a Roman fresco but the colours glowed.
Back in my studio at the British School at Rome, I borrowed the yellow, brown, red, blue, black colour scheme for my own series of paintings. Until recently I had only been painting on glass, but it encouraged me to develop a new technique using wax paper that allowed me to transfer the skin of paint directly onto the wall or panels. The transfer process encouraged the cracks and rougher textures.