Standing Stones by Terry Duffy
26 April to 8 June 2008
RS Thomas Triptych
'Standing Stones by Terry Duffy' at the Walker Art Gallery was a vibrant and challenging start to a series of exhibitions by the Liverpool born international artist in 2008. It forms part of his 'MONUMENTS' project, held at various venues across Liverpool during European Capital of Culture year.
As a group of paintings the 'Standing Stones' provides an overview of more recent developments in Duffy's work, exploring both commemorative and personal themes. The title Standing Stones is a metaphor for humanity. It expresses Duffy's long-term fascination with humankind's legacy and the decisions made for good or evil by individuals, groups, societies and cultures.
The 'RS Thomas Triptych', completed in 2000, was the centrepiece of the RS Thomas commemoration at the prestigious Welsh Academy, Cardiff in 2001. These paintings portray in abstract form the passion and intensity of this internationally renowned poet.
The 'Poem in the Rock' diptych from 2002 re-employs the vessel shape from Duffy’s earlier works of the 1980s. The shape acts as a visual metaphor for the human torso, created using vibrant and spatial colours. The overall work suggests a positive sense of humanity.
The final pair 'Somewhere between life and death we make decisions' have only just been completed. The work demonstrates Duffy's unique experiments in oils on sheer ‘hot pressed board’. These paintings are pared right back. By ripping away at the board the artist creates dynamic shapes that suggest the human form but simultaneously retain an ambiguity. The effect is uncompromising and thought provoking.
Duffy’s work questions the very nature of painting by producing works of ambiguous and sculptural shapes. In his work brush strokes all but disappear within a membrane of colour and the slightest scratch or incision becomes crucial.
Terry Duffy was born in Liverpool and studied at Liverpool Art School, winning an early scholarship at the age of 13. During the 1970s he worked briefly with Joseph Beuys and John Cage exploring the then radical issues in Live Art. In 1985 Duffy was a founder of Liverpool’s Arena Studios. His artwork 'Victim, no resurrection' (1983), a crucifix over four meters (14ft) high, attracted major funding and national media coverage. This artwork relating to the UK riots of 1981 has continuing relevance, with displays in Liverpool, New York and presently Chichester Cathedral.
Duffy has exhibited internationally and his work is held in collections worldwide. He has won a number of major awards and commissions. In 1991 his enormous painting 'The miraculous draft of fishes' was in the John Moores 17 exhibition, here at the Walker Art Gallery. In 1992 the artist was the British Council’s visiting Professor of Fine Art in Budapest. Duffy was recently on the jury of the first Liverpool Art Prize. At the time of writing he was working on his 'MONUMENTS' pan-European project, to be launched in Liverpool in autumn 2008. His studio is in Shoreditch, London.
Terry Duffy website
This exhibition has been made possible with the assistance of the Government Indemnity Scheme, which is provided by DCMS and administered by MLA.