The term “artists’ artist” is used a lot. My friend Gustav Metzger was more than that – he was a role model. In 1991, I found myself in the UK, giving a lecture tour for the Henry Moore Sculpture Trust. I’d never given a lecture in my life – at this point, I’d only organised an art exhibition in my kitchen. The first lecture happened in London and I remember visiting Norman Rosenthal at the Royal Academy who told me I needed to know about Gustav.
After giving talks in Dublin, Leeds, Manchester and Belfast, I finally reached Glasgow, where late one night after lecturing, I met Douglas Gordon in the basement of the art space Transmission. In Glasgow at the time it was impossible not to visit all the artists. One led me to the next with a sense of urgency. So after meeting Douglas, I visited his studio and it was there he told me about his two biggest inspirations: the conceptualist John Latham and the auto-destructive artist Gustav Metzger. I could not have imagined that, years later, we would end up exhibiting both at the Serpentine.