Published 22/11/2017

Peter-John de Villiers
The Mandrake Hotel

Peter-John de Villiers at The Mandrake

The Mandrake boutique hotel opened its doors with a grand opening in October, showcasing a massive 8x2 metres mural, hand painted on commission by Peter-John de Villiers. The artwork, called Mandrake, was created almost two years ago while the hotel was still a work in progress. P.J. spent over five months focused on creating what has come to be an amazingly detailed artwork, inspired by the Mandrake plant.

From 13th to 26th November, Peter-John was back in London to create more art for the hotel, this time as an artist in residence. His second artwork for the hotel was created while guests are invited to witness the mural in progress. The Mandragora, as the second artwork is called, will be priding the walls in the hotel, in great company of the Mandrake.

In dialogue with Peter-John:

– What was the main inspiration for the original artwork for Mandrake, and what is the ideas for the second artwork?

Both pieces are coming from a very personal space based on experiences in life, pain, joy, discomfort, happiness, all spectrums of the human experience. When I was first commissioned the initial painting,  I was given a poem written by the owner of the hotel Rami Fustok. It was an open ended inspiration that let me explore some of the darker and more mysterious elements of my own experience as an artist. There is a lot of depth created by playing with structured patterns juxtaposed with organic chaos, giving the viewer an unsettled sense of wonder. People tend to get a bit lost in the work based on the scale and amount of detail.

– Do you think differently of the first artwork now that you have spent so much time around it and in the hotel?

Yes, its interesting.  This painting was the first piece of art commissioned for the hotel, and apparently it helped set the stage for other aspects of the hotels development. I can see how it fits nicely into the equation, and I´m very pleased that it helps set a tone for the hotel, it is a very special place. I don’t think there is anywhere else like it in the world, you feel like you have entered a portal into this beautifully curated experience, it truly is fantastic.

– Can you tell us a bit about what you have experienced during your artist residency?

 I met a lot of incredible people during my stay - artists, celebrities, art dealers, fashion designers, people that are passionate about what they do. I think the big take away from the residency is that people are genuinely kind and interested. I had the most transformative art making experience of my life on the last night of my stay. A shaman came and performed a gong ceremony during the last two hours I completed the large painting I had been working on for 5 months. Over the course of him playing I completely broke down, and was able to see myself and the painting for its true meaning and purpose.  Its difficult to put into words, but it was absolutely a mystical experience that has changed me deeply, I am really grateful to have experienced that.

– What sort of projects have you done during your artist residency besides the mural?

I painted many different objects for people, leather jackets, a skull, wallets, shoes. I was also sent home with a wedding dress to paint - definitely  excited about working on that!  It is really fun to tackle different mediums and to make a connection with the people they were for, I can see my work expanding into new territories as a result of the residency, I would definitely like to get involved in more fashion projects. I also collaborated on two rings with House of Maiden based in London.  Its just fascinating to see how this will all evolve.

This eccentric luxury boutique hotel is well worth a look! If you’re ever in London make sure to pay it a visit.

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