Self portrait in the wild, by Amarillo
Oil on Linen, 60 x 50 cm
Ofir Hirsh, 2004

I woke up late on that Saturday, after a long night of dancing and drinking, and I was still drunk. By evening, when I still felt dizzy and weak, I realized that something was wrong with me. A few days later I already experienced a bunch of other disturbing symptoms, and the Doctor who reviewed my blood test informed me that I have Hepatitis A. “It could have been worst you know…” He added and continued “You are lucky you haven’t caught  Hepatitis B or C”. He told me there was not much I could do about it, that I needed to rest for a while, and repeat the Bilirubin blood test a few weeks later. Then, he knocked me down “Most importantly: don’t drink any kind of alcohol in the next 6 months. It will kill your liver!”. It’s not that I was an alcoholic, but when it’s hot in the tropics, nothing compares to a cold beer, and when you go out at night and want to dance like crazy, a cold Mojito or Cuba Libre makes you fly. Pineapple juice doesn’t. So yes, I was a bit frustrated from the prohibition that was forced on me. Then, on top of the general low energy and bad feeling, my skin turned yellow or in Spanish: Amarillo (a phenomenon called Jaundice).
Obviously, I could not resist the temptation of reinventing myself. So I became Amarillo and signed all my new works under that name. I loved how it sounded and I enjoyed writing it with oil colors. The Amarillo period extended more than my illness, “thanks” to the alcohol prohibition that kept me in that punished mood, and Amarillo produced a large and diverse body of work. It wasn’t the first time, and definitely not the last, that an injury or an illness inspired me. When my friends hear about a challenging situation I go through, they switch rather quickly from the empathizing mode to a teasing one: “Yeah, I bet you’re gonna give yourself a new name now”.