Johnny Depp unveils self-portrait which captures his ’emotional exhaustion’

A self-portrait by Johnny Depp titled Five is unveiled at Castle Fine Art in London ahead of prints being made available to buy (David Parry/PA)
A self-portrait by Johnny Depp titled Five is unveiled at Castle Fine Art in London ahead of prints being made available to buy (David Parry/PA)

Johnny Depp has unveiled a self-portrait which captures the “emotional exhaustion” he felt during a difficult period in his life.

The Hollywood star, 60, said he initially conceived the painting in the studio of British illustrator Ralph Steadman in 2021 as he entered the fifth year of a challenging chapter in his life.

Depp was awarded 10.3 million dollars (£8 million) in damages last year following a high-profile defamation case in the US against his ex-wife Amber Heard, who he was married to from 2015-2017.

Johnny Depp self-portrait on sale
The self-portrait by Johnny Depp features five tally marks (David Parry/PA)

He sued the Aquaman star over an article she wrote in the Washington Post in 2018, which his lawyers said falsely accused him of being an abuser.

The US case came after Depp’s drawn-out UK libel claim against News Group Newspapers (NGN) – the owner of The Sun – over allegations that he was violent and abusive towards his ex-wife.

After a 16-day trial the judge ruled the content of the article was proven to be “substantially true”.

During this time, Depp said he immersed himself in the self-portrait as a means of “creative healing” and revisited it in 2023, adding a tally mark of five lines in recognition of his recent experiences.

Calling the piece Five, he said: “It was created at a time that was, let’s say, a bit dark, (a) bit confusing.

“But I looked at it and I don’t know why, I thought it needed something else, it needed further information when I felt the need to write… basically the counting down of the years.

“Essentially I just wrote five on there because I was just about to enter into the fifth year of the madness.”

Johnny Depp court case
Depp leaves the High Court in London following the final day of hearings in his libel case against the publishers of The Sun (Victoria Jones/PA)

Castle Fine Art describe the “deliberately intimate” painting as offering a “uniquely personal insight” into Depp’s “innermost feelings and emotions” during that time.

It also said the painting captures “Depp’s emotional exhaustion during a difficult period of his life”.

The actor and musician said he would sit with a mirror and sketch himself on different days with different lights and different angles to perfect the self-portrait.

“I appreciate portraits of people that really are just as lifelike as a photograph,” he said.

“But unfortunately, we have been living in the times where we may as well just take a photograph, if that’s what you’re looking for.

“So to be able to kind of drag out whatever the figure that represents to you, that it shouldn’t look, I don’t know, real, in a way.

“It should just be some expression.”

Johnny Depp self-portrait on sale
Castle Fine Art described the painting as ‘deliberately intimate’ (David Parry/PA)

Depp also revealed the reference artwork inspiring his piece pays homage to a photograph taken for Christian Dior Parfums in 2015.

The photograph was used to announce Depp as the face of Dior Sauvage in a shoot led by French creative director Jean-Baptiste Mondino, and Depp said he wanted to honour the company’s loyalty to him.

Depp said on Mondino: “He’s got a great eye and the great thing about shooting with Jean-Baptiste Mondino is, you will never look at anything, any of his photographs, any of his work, where the subject’s eyes aren’t somewhere else, or you see something behind the eyes…he’s kind of a master of that kind of thing.

“That whole time, as much as it was painful, Dior stuck to their guns and that was incredible.”

Depp said creating a self-portrait was “not the most comfortable thing” but he had overcome his initial reluctance to release the painting, having previously kept the artwork private.

He said: “If the piece resonates with even just one person, this art has purpose.”

Johnny Depp self-portrait on sale
Prints will be available to buy online and in galleries nationwide from today (David Parry/PA)

Copies of Five are on sale for £1,950 at Castle Fine Art for 13 days – which is said to be “a number significant to the artist”.

Depp will donate 200 dollars from each sale to the charity Mental Health America which he describes as a “wonderful facility” and an “extremely deserving cause”.

Castle Fine Art said each artwork is made to order, hand-signed by Depp, uniquely numbered, and embossed by hand with Depp’s personal mark of authenticity, The Bunnyman.​

The self-portrait follows his debut Friends & Heroes art collection, which saw Depp paint late actors Heath Ledger and River Phoenix and singer Bob Marley.

Over the past 12 months the actor has made a slow but steady return to the spotlight, touring with musician Jeff Beck and making a surprise appearance at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards.

More recently he appeared at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of new film Jeanne Du Barry, in which he stars as King Louis XV.

Speaking at a press conference at the festival he said he had “no further need” for Hollywood, and described the fallout from the trial as a “weird joke”.