Peter Rodulfo is an artist and sculptor who spent his early years in different countries like India and Australia. Peter studied painting at the Norwich School of Art from 1975-79, and went on to hold his first exhibition in London at the Margaret Fisher gallery. Peter Rodulfo has claimed to work predominantly from imagination and memory, focusing more on the inaccuracies of memory rather than their precision. I find his work fascinating, and was honoured to have the chance to talk books with Peter. He has had his work exhibited all around the world, and his work can also be found in notable private and museum collections. Please enjoy my interview with the wonderfully talented artist, Peter Rodulfo…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
When I was younger, I used to feel a little embarrassed to admit to being an artist as of course to many people art is still considered as nothing more than a hobby. I dreaded the ensuing questions, but it doesn`t bother me now to say that I am a painter.
I am currently reading and enjoying Marrying the Ugly Millionaire: New and Collected Poems by Sophie Hannah. I am reading it because there is a poem in it written in response to one of my paintings.( The man who wouldn`t share his garden with a wolf).
When you think about your childhood, what book comes to mind?
I spent some years as a child living in an Indian hill station, and though I am not sure if I read The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling at that time or not, I associate it with my period in India.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I always wanted to be an artist, though archeology appealed as did anthropology. My father’s library which I used to enjoy browsing in as a child, was full of books on these subjects as well as on art of the world. No doubt this sparked off my interests at an early age.
What do you think your school aged self would think of the present day you?
My school aged self would not be surprised by my present day self, as I always spent every spare moment painting, and also skipped most school lessons in order to paint and never intended to do anything other than spend my life painting.
If you could wrap up a single book and gift it to yourself as you left education – which book would it be?
I would choose The Alkahest: The Quest of the Absolute by Honore De Balzac as I feel a particular sympathy with the alchemist in this story, who`s quest is not dissimilar to that of the artist. As in alchemy the painter’s pursuit is not only endless but also all encompassing, and perhaps even self destructive.
Does your reading have routine? Is there a particular time or place that you like to read?
More often than not, I read in bed, morning and evening.
Picasso by Ingo F. Walther. There are so many books about Picasso, this is chosen simply because I have it and it has a large selection of works in it. I am primarily interested in Picasso’s images rather than any particular text. However much one looks at Picasso’s work, it retains it’s ability to surprise. It is the exploratory and diverse nature of Picasso’s art that I find has always encouraged me to strive further in my own work.
Do you have any books that you strongly associate with someone important in your life?
Rogue Herries by Hugh Walpole. I was an avid reader as a child. The books that I read were more often than not from my mother’s library, which was largely composed of novels and poetry from the 19th and early 20th century. Rogue Herries and its accompanying series was a firm favorite of both my mother and I. In my mother’s life she also had a soft spot for rogues.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
The Famished Road by Ben Okri. I have recommended it to friends on a number of occasions, though sadly they seldom have appreciated it as much as I. Okri’s work for me has a personal resonance through his emphasis on the dual nature of existence, in the mundane and the visionary, the sacred and the profane.
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
I read more novels than anything else, though I do have occasional long periods of reading non fiction, often with some historical content. I couldn’t really say if I prefer fiction to non fiction.
Do you think reading is important?
Yes I think reading is very important for obvious reasons; expansion of horizons, empathy, knowledge, imagination and much more.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith by Gina B Nahai. This appealed to me as a piece of magic realism. I also found it very interesting as a view into the Middle East and the displacement of people and personalities.
Do you prefer real books or digital books?
I prefer real books. When choosing a book to read, I browse bookshelves and books seem to find me, usually at the right time. Not at all sure that one can have this experience digitally.
Name a book that you feel every human should have to read by law.
I am sure that there were many millenniums worth of tales told before The Odyssey by Homer, but this is one of the earliest collections that have come down to us. I give credence to the cliche that there are only so many tales to tell and that all tales are a variation on these. Certainly Homer has had a direct influence on many writers; James Joyce for instance. I particularly enjoy reading it when on a Greek island!
Memories, Dreams and Reflections by C.G. Jung. It was many years ago in my early twenties, that I read Jung, but this book made a big impact on me at the time. It gave me confidence to pursue the direction in which my work was going, which was towards an exploration of my subconscious and an attempt to marry the inner and outer worlds. I tried reading it again recently, but sadly, I found that it no longer held my interest to such an extent as previously.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
Knulp by Herman Hesse. Shortly before reading this as a young teenager, I had read On The Road by Jack Kerouac; I had a highly disciplined upbringing and perhaps as a response to this I found the idea of the hobo had a great appeal. Although Kerouac’s dissolute life was attractive I found that Knulp, a slim and simple book about a tramp, had a lot more depth. Whereas Kerouac’s idea of freewheeling was ultimately self destructive, Hesses’ vision of a life led outside of the mainstream having a real value was positive.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
I don`t plan what I am going to read. I usually buy second hand books, and select them quite randomly, believing in the power of serendipity.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
As my work explores memories, dreams and imperfect recollection I might call it Lost and Found.