EDDIE & CHARLIE PROUDFOOT
As much as we currently know...
The Brothers grew up in Queens, New York. Eddie is two years older than Charlie, however they have no idea how old they actually are. We estimate late 30’s early 40’s.
The Brothers spent a large amount of their young lives in foster care (they will not be drawn as to why) however they managed to stay together until Eddie was old enough to leave, his Brother Charlie following him two years later.
The Brothers began working in menial jobs and began living together in the Lower East Side where they still reside. Both have had spells in psychiatric hospitals and prison (no details as to why) and have been living on welfare and handouts for around ten years, occasionally selling the odd picture to tourists.
Their canvases are the magazines, advertising posters and old newspapers found around town or donated by neighbors who leave large piles at their door on a weekly basis. They never leave anything on the streets that would make a suitable surface to draw or paint on.
Both Brothers will not be drawn on their reasons for their fascination with blanking out faces, however almost every picture in their archive is a portrait with the face defaced. Eddie also paints and is quite accomplished and we are hoping to expand on that. However progress is slow as the Brothers need to be handled with Kidd gloves and will only work through Mason. We are however hoping to get them to the UK for the Mental Health show in October.
The Brothers are incredibly sensitive and are wary of outsiders, their art is their therapy, a means of expunging their personal demons. They have never sought adulation or praise for their work, for them it keeps their demons at bay, we hope we can use their art to make their life just that little bit easier!
“I was at the opening of a show called Street Masters, a bit of a posh affair, a collaboration between Fat Free Gallery and the auction house Sotherbys. It was the usual New York opening, the great and the good, the trendy and the beautiful all gathered to see some art and drink some wine. At these events everyone wants to meet you and you can get a little overwhelmed by all the attention throughout the night I kept glancing at this guy staring in the window, like a kid at a toy shop. I was busy schmoozing and this guy must have been at the window for a couple of hours just staring in. I was wondering if I was the only one who could see him.
He was certainly a distinctive character, he reminded me of the artists Basquiat, he had that shabby chic look about him and a head for of dreadlocks to top it off and i was intrigued.
I decided to step out for some air, and this guy just stepped back and started to stare at me, I suppose it’s not every day you find a man stood in the street in a balaclava. We got chatting as he was intrigued about me as I was about him, he was softly spoken and painfully shy. I asked him if he would like to come in and see the work. He was incredibly hesitant but he did and I showed him around and he was transfixed.
He was almost childlike yet had a compelling presence. After about twenty minutes he said he had to leave so I walked him to the door and thanked him for chatting. He said as he was leaving that he “Did pictures too”, and I could see them one day and gave me his phone number.
I gave him a ring two days later and I arranged to visit him at his apartment in.
When he opened his door my jaw dropped, his entire apartment or should I say their apartment (he shares with his Brother Billy) was literally overflowing with images, faces from books, magazines and postcards covered literally every inch of wall space and surface, portfolios overflowing with torn out pages, some covered in paint and some awaiting painting. He showed me in and we sat down and had a chat but I was mesmerised by the color and the raw intensity of the images. Their story was heartbreaking and uplifting, and their art wasn’t about galleries or sales or recognition it was wholly about them, about their salvation and about their passion. I asked had anyone ever seen their work and was astonished when he said that other than ‘care professionals’ I was the only person who had ever seen what they do. I asked him why he had allowed me to see it, he said because I was the only guy he had seen that never had a face! (I wear my balaclava to all the shows I attend)
I told them both that I thought their work was fabulous and should be seen. It just so happened that prior to leaving for the states I had been in the process of setting up an artist management and art advisory company (Asylum Artist Management). I had been looking around for artists for a while but none had really caught my eye until now. I called my partner Simon back in the UK and sent him some images and his thoughts were exactly the same as mine, we had to sign them, and after a lot of coaxing and persuasion we did.