Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Ken Currie

I came across these amazing recent prints by Scottish artist Ken Currie on the Flowers East Gallery website. I’m a great admirer of Currie’s paintings, and I think he approaches his artwork with a tremendous intellectual rigour combined with incredible craftsmanship. Like all great artists, he also has an important working knowledge of art history, particularly the great European masters of painting.

Head Study (After Velasquez), 2005

Suspended Skeleton, etching, 2006

Cerements, etching, 2005

When I was studying for my degree I based my dissertation on Currie’s work. The year I was selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2003, Currie was also one of the selector’s. He was one of the motivations for entering, thinking I’ll kick myself if I don’t try this year. I framed up this big skull ‘cartoon’ I’d made as prep for a painting, half jokingly thinking, ‘Big Ken will love a nice skull’. And sure enough my piece was selected. He was there at the private view, but I never approached him. There’s something often said about not meeting your heroes…

When I look at these prints and this other painting I’ve singled out below it helps me to understand some of the frustrations I find in artists’ such as Zhang Enli at Ikon, who I recently mentioned. This is a very similar image to ones by Enli; a seemingly banal object. But in the hands of someone of Currie’s skill it goes much, much further to being elevated as a serious thing of contemplation. It has that thing of being one of those images that burns itself on the back of your mind. Others just seem lightweight and flacid in comparison.
Absent Presence,
oil on canvas, 2004, 214 x 154.5cms
Looking at these prints is also quite sobering in relation to my own meagre efforts! At least it gives you something to aim for? Doesn’t It?

No comments: