George Gittoes defies categorisation as his life defies belief. Equal parts artist and warrior, he is world-famous for waging war on war with art, circus, photography and film, and has been shot, stabbed, bombed, beaten, tortured, drowned and jailed.
Blood Mystic chronicles George’s extraordinary life for the first time. In its pages, the reader is drawn into the astounding mind of a man who has worked with Andy Warhol, dined with Fidel Castro, plotted with Julian Assange, been feted by Mandela, blessed by Mother Theresa, sneezed on by the Dalai Lama – all the while exhibiting relentless energy and an outstanding ability to outwit death itself.
Blood Mystic begins with George flying back to Jalalabad carrying a letter from the Taliban threatening to chop off his head and show the decapitation on live TV. With characteristic nerve, George defies the Taliban’s threat and proceeds with his mission to film with street kids in the most dangerous city on earth – the Ghostbuster street exorcists, the Snow Monkey ice cream boys, the urchin girls and kuchi kids, the child gangsters with razor blades under their lips.
As the danger grows, George reflects deeply on a life less ordinary – his boyhood being groomed as a gangster, his escape to New York, the Yellow House art revolutions, crazy brave adventures in outback Australia, ghetto America, jungle Nicaragua, war-torn Cambodia, badlands Baghdad, hollow Bosnia… and beyond. “Soldiers die for flags. For me, it is art,” he says.
George Gittoes was born in Rockdale, NSW in 1949. After working with Andy Warhol and the Black Panthers in New York, he founded the Yellow House in Sydney with Martin Sharp. He has won many prizes for his painting – including twice being awarded the Blake Prize for Religious Art. His acclaimed documentaries include Bullets of the Poets (1986), Soundtrack to War (2004), Rampage (2006) and Micreants of Taliwood (2007). All the while he has exhibiting his paintings and campaigned for peace around the world.
Blood Mystic is published by Pan Macmillan Australia, and is available from all leading booksellers.
Image: George Gittoes Blood Mystic (supplied)