Friday, June 18, 2021

Ken Currie ‘Interregnum’ | 18 March – 29 May 2021. Flowers Gallery. London

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Martin Cid Magazinehttps://martincid.com
Martin Cid Magazine es una publicación de cine, entretenimiento, espectáculos, ocio y cultura

Flowers Gallery is pleased to present Interregnum, Glasgow-based artist Ken Currie’s first solo exhibition in Asia. This body of work was completed by the artist in 2020, in what Currie describes as the unprecedented limbo caused by the global pandemic. The title for this exhibition is taken from Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks, in which he wrote: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” 

Ken Currie rose to prominence in the 1980s as part of a generation of painters known as the New Glasgow Boys. He received acclaim for his public murals for the People’s Palace in Glasgow, as well as his enduringly popular and poignant work, for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery collection in 2002, Three Oncologists. Within his rich and luminous paintings Currie observes what he describes as the sickness of contemporary society, the fragility of mortality and the disturbing impact of the corrosive human propensity for cruelty and violence.

Chinese Gloves, 2020, Oil on gesso board, 45.5 x 61 cm, 17 7/8 x 24 1/8 in © Ken Currie, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery
Chinese Gloves, 2020, Oil on gesso board, 45.5 x 61 cm, 17 7/8 x 24 1/8 in © Ken Currie, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery

Christine’s Mask and Interregnum were painted at the start of the pandemic when Currie saw the mask as an accessory, intentionally draping it in the manner of an 18th century plague hood to exacerbate the surreal nature of the subject, these paintings now have a portentous quality. This evolved symbolism is echoed in Chinese Gloves, familiar for their practical use, the rubber garments are pierced and displayed, while in Life Cast a child’s full body cast, intended for healing, is presented as a disturbingly unused ornament, thereby embodied with a darker suggestive subtext. 

Throughout this exhibition Currie references his deep interest in the historical ritualistic superstitions held by Scotland’s most remote island dwelling communities and their reliance on the sea. The reality of this harsh, unforgiving way of life hinted at by the artist in the red raw feet of Salt Bath and imagined in Sea Creatures where a wet suit wearing-child carries a jelly fish in their vulnerable bare hands, as if it were an offering, only the child’s eyes expressing the pain of its stings. The attire worn in Liquidator is also reminiscent of Currie’s fisherfolk, dressed in gut covered overalls the apron is pristine as if in dreadful preparation.

Life Cast, 2019, Oil on canvas, 214.5 x 122 cm, 84 1/2 x 48 1/8 in. © Ken Currie, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery
Life Cast, 2019, Oil on canvas, 214.5 x 122 cm, 84 1/2 x 48 1/8 in. © Ken Currie, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery

To accompany the exhibition, the large-scale triptych Revenant-Three Sisters-Plague Finger will be available to view exclusively online. In this work Currie’s weird sisters are depicted ominously grouped in the blood-drenched hulk of a boat, and flanked on either side by a shrouded harbinger, one in white and one in black. There is an intentionally unsettling air of mystery and foreboding, Currie choosing to remain ambiguous, as to whether the figures are summoning or warding the plague away.  

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