William Mulhall "Saatchi and the Momart Fire"
Mixed media on deep framed canvas 61x46cm
In the wake of the loss of over one hundred artworks from Charles Saatchi's private collection in the Momart fire in May 2004, Irish artist William Mulhall decided to painted a portrait of the man himself. This work proved to be no ordinary portrait. Mulhall himself admits that he took his inspiration from news coverage of the fire and also from the work of the rock band Ash and in particular their song Burn Baby Burn. The oil-on-board painting was burned in large sections by Mulhall using a flame-thrower. At its unveiling the artist said of the work, "I am asking myself in this painting about where Saatchi can go now. Will he rise like a Phoenix from the ashes or will he fade into oblivion?"
More than 100 artworks from Charles Saatchi's famous collection had been destroyed in a warehouse fire. Modern art classics like Tracey Emin's tent and works by Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Gary Hume were lost. Art storage firm Momart's warehouse on an industrial estate in Leyton, east London, has been largely destroyed and small fires are still burning. A spokesman for Saatchi said he was "absolutely devastated" and the cost was likely to run into millions of pounds.