Trojan: Works On Paper reveals an intimate body of work by the flamboyant 80s clubkid, Trojan. In The Role Model Issue, Princess Julia looks back on the time she spent with him…
Born in 1966, a young Trojan, then Gary Barnes, left his mundane life in the suburbs of Croydon in search of the bright lights of inner London. Experimenting with his personal image in clubland, he initially became his own art project. But by 1984, aged nineteen, Trojan was being feted for his paintings, drawings and collages, his surrealist and colourful depictions an extension of his own style and thoughts. Using whatever materials were available to him, including bits and bobs picked up from joke shops, broken cutlery, biros and felt-tips, his works like himself were both beautiful and extraordinary. When Trojan entered a room, all eyes would turn his way. Dressed to the hilt in flounce and colour, he would shoot a naughty mocking glare at any bemused onlookers. His cherubic face daubed in make-up, his oversized lips painted on to one side, his hair a lopsided bob and his mutilated ear dangling brutally off – an experiment gone wrong, he had intended to sever his ear off à la Vincent Van Gogh. Wherever he went a stream of scent filled the air as if he had just doused himself in a whole bottle of his favourite perfume. “I’m a perfume terrorist,” he once told me as he opened his square attaché case and rummaged around, producing an exquisite Hermès scarf and joyously tying it around his neck. At the bottom of the case a selection of pills lay scattered. He had one for every moment of the day, a medicine chest of mood enhancing drugs. He smirked and laughed with a glint in his eyes when describing the contents of his case. There was always a lot of laughing back then and a lot of gossiping. We chatted about drugs, art, clubs and people, everything and nothing in particular.
Trojan died in 1986 of an accidental drugs overdose, he always said he would never live past 21. It was a macabre statement, but then he always had a wonderfully twisted way of looking at things. It was all for effect. Trojan, a quietly spoken, gentle, intelligent and beautiful boy came out with statements and actions designed to make people laugh, think and ponder, characteristics that all became integral facets of his art. As a key member of London’s creative club scene in the early 80s, Trojan became close friends with Leigh Bowery who, with dreams of becoming a fashion designer, created a collection entitled ‘Pakis In Outer Space’. Trojan volunteered to be the model, and together they conjured up the Picasso stroke Hindu deity maquillage that’s now so iconic. As best mates they cut quite a dash around town, turning up at club nights, causing a stir and like everyone else in our circles drinking themselves silly. All the while, inspired by the electric world unfolding around him, Trojan continued turning out artworks and studies at a prolific rate, a lot of which have rarely been seen. Opening at London’s ICA next month, Trojan: Works On Paper reveals an intimate body of work, lovingly stored by Trojan’s then boyfriend the film producer John Maybury, alongside unseen photo albums from his friends. It’s beautiful, touching and cheeky, don’t miss it.
Trojan: Works on Paper runs at the ICA until 18th November 2012.