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This is a small portrait of the maverick gay performer and nightclub personality, Leigh Bowery, who died in 1994. The extraordinary costumes he created for himself played on fashion, fetishism and carnival aesthetics, which transformed his sixteen stones of flesh into an androgynous spectacle.Freud met him in 1988 and for four years painted him regularly. He was fascinated by Bowery’s bulky physique and his awareness of the body as a sculptural object. In this painting, Freud shows him close-up and naked. The vulnerability of the sleeping figure lends the painting a touching intimacy.

July 2007