An upcoming art exhibition by Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood drew negative comments from professional critics, but they may not know he’s been painting longer than he’s been performing.

Wood has published a number of art collections in recent years, including works that feature his bandmates. Ahead of an event in Hertfordshire, England,The Guardian asked a number of reviewers, “Can Ronnie Wood finally give up the day job?”

One described the paintings in a variety of modern styles as “frightening pastiches": “Perhaps Mr Wood should stick to making music and not cross disciplines.” Another was upset by a take on Picasso’s "Guernica" – regarded as a powerful anti-war piece –that featured Mick Jagger and the other members of the Stones.

“[Wood] seems to have taken one of the greatest and most moving works of art, a desolate cry against war, and used it as the basis for terrible fan art to, er, himself,” the critic argued. “Art is often about having a decent dollop of chutzpah, but this takes the biscuit.”

A third writer did say the paintings were “livelier” than many works exhibited by people best known in other disciplines, such as the U.K.’s Prince Charles, but added that "the citizens of Guernica were bombed and killed from the air. The Stones were only ever bombed on drugs.”

One of The Guardian’s own writers argued that the art was very much in the spirit of everything Wood has done in his career. “It’s impossible to separate a rock star’s art from their music,” he noted. “The Rolling Stones are the sexiest and most demonic rock band in history, and Ronnie Wood seems as entranced and appalled by their devilish antics as any bystander.”

Wood and his bandmates aren’t known for caring much about critics. In any case, the guitarist – who has a number of studios set up in various parts of the world – knows exactly where painting fits into his life. Pointing out that he’s been creating art from the age of 10, and took up guitar later in his teens, he said in 2017, “As a young kid, when my mum would come to my school, they’d say to her, ‘You’re the mother of the artist,’ as I was known for art. Before I reached my teens, some of my drawings were featured on Sketch Club on the BBC, with one winning a prize – which only furthered my interest in art.”

He added that he's "been painting even longer than playing guitar, so they go hand-in-hand for me. Color fills my life. Even the decoration in my homes is a riot of color. Ultimately, art fills my life, art is my life – and will continue to be.”

 

Ronnie Wood Year by Year