Monika Russell-Cowan, Richard Russell-Cowan, Alan Russell-Cowan
What makes an artist? What drives someone to create a painting, a composition or write a novel? While many academic categories of art exist, not every artist easily fits into prescribed meanings. New York City-based British painter Alan Russell-Cowan is one such artist. Afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia, he struggles with the desire to be a great painter while battling delusions and auditory hallucinations. MY NAME IS ALAN AND I PAINT PICTURES examines his life, the role art plays in it, and how mental illness intertwines with artistic creation and perception. For Cowan-Russell, painting becomes a cure for his symptoms and the means of his release; yet for us, his painting means much more. It is an alternative perspective on art and life, and a world of mental illness visually reconstructed for viewers who will never experience it themselves. Through his life and work, we can examine the wider art world, questioning the means and rationale behind contemporary critical judgment of art. Director Johnny Boston follows Alan Cowan-Russell for more than twenty years, including interviews with the artist and verité street footage; observations and musings from critics, collectors, curators, family and friends; and inventively animated renditions of his vibrant and colorful paintings.