Jonathan Yeo’s painting of House of Cards’ arch schemer will hang near real presidential portraits. Yeo talks famous subjects—including Kevin Spacey, Cara Delevingne, Prince Philip, and a porny George W. Bush—and living with ADHD.
It was, the portrait painter Jonathan Yeo told The Daily Beast, both exhilarating to be at the Smithsonian Museum on Monday, and “a little strange.”
Over coffee at New York’s Soho House, Yeo said that only a few years before he was told his portrait painting would never amount to much, and so being at the Smithsonian and being asked questions about his art by the assembled press, was thrilling—although he is no stranger to controversy and media attention.
It was strange because the blurring of fiction and reality around the 45-year-old artist felt dizzying. Here Yeo was, alongside Kevin Spacey—who plays scheming President Frank Underwood in House of Cards and who has posed for Yeo before as another character (Richard III)—unveiling a painting of Underwood which will hang nearby, though not yet alongside, real presidents’ portraits at the esteemed museum.
The portrait itself features Underwood looking both down from above and directly at the viewer, just as the Machiavellian character breaks the fourth wall to addresses us on the Netflix show, the fourth season of which begins March 4.
Spacey’s role was originated—even more archly—by actor Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart in the original 1990 British version of the show, created by then-Conservative politician (now Peer) Michael Dobbs.
In an intense two-hour conversation, the handsome, witty, and loquacious Yeo—married to actress Shebah Ronay, with two daughters, Tabitha, 12, and Yasmin, 9—talked about his sitters who have included Camilla Parker Bowles, Nicole Kidman, David Cameron, Damien Hirst, and Malala Yousafzai.
He also discussed the art of the portrait in the age of the selfie, getting the famous to reveal themselves, growing up the child of a politician himself, and living with ADHD.
SOURCE: TIM TEEMAN