George Gittoes | Mattress (San Francisco)


George Gittoes
Size: 183 x 214cm
oil on linen

"On my way through San Francisco in 1969, after travelling across America from NYC by Greyhound Bus, I caught Hong Kong Flu. I was staying in a small single room of the YMCA without medical or family support. While running a high fever I dropped in and out of horrific nightmare dreams and sketched some of them into my travelling diary. In one repeating dream insect monsters controlled the world. In a graphic moment one of
the insects had sex with my mother’s older sister, my aunty Dulcie. I drew this and incorporated the hallucination into a novel I was writing called The Romances.

When I had recovered, I moved to the Shaw Hotel where Frank Zappa was also a guest. Frank was looking for a record cover and I showed him my portfolio, not meaning to let him see my embarrassing Flu Drawings. But Frank accidently found the image of my aunty and the insect and said “Wow! Is that Nixon? He is fucking us all.” Frank thought it would make a great cover but, in the end, his record label, probably, did not agree.

I had insect dreams in my childhood, long before the Hong Kong Flu and was already incorporating them into The Hotel Kennedy series I was developing before San Francisco. But Zappa’s spontaneous observation started me seeing the insect as ‘those people who are in control of our destinies but are so different to the rest of us they are like alien insects from another universe.’ In my reworking of the etching into a painting I have seen the likes of these people as the Insect creatures … the .00001 % that want to retain the money, control, and power." - George Gittoes

More Information
Material oil on linen
Dimensions 183 x 214cm
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