Derrick Guild: After Eden
September 10 - October 30, 2010
Georgia Jaksic or Claudia Stone
tel: (212) 987-4997
After Eden, an exhibition of recent work by Scottish artist Derrick Guild will be on view at the Allan Stone Gallery from September 10 – October 30, 2010. The exhibition of ten paintings and three sculptures marks Guild’s fourth solo show at the gallery. In this work Guild harnesses the look and feel of the great European still life tradition, while adding a contemporary sense of mystery, dislocation and humor. What at first appear to be straightforward still lifes, suddenly become puzzles – at once humorous, surreal and unexplained.
In March of 2007 Guild began a 22-month stay on Ascension Island, a British overseas dependency in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, 8° south of the Equator. While there, Guild started painting the island’s unusual plant and wildlife. Unusual in that there are only 3 small indigenous plants, and the rest of the island’s rainforest has been deliberately man-made over the last 250 years.
Guild refers to this series of large paintings as “fictions,” as “multi-layered trompe l’oeil botanical illustrations.” He explains, “They are impossibly hybridized, made to look old, tropically soiled and believable. The plants could not exist in the hybridized form that I have painted them in. The paintings are a comment on the fiction that colonialism put in progress. I love botanical paintings from the 17th and 18th Century. The way they helped reinforce a kind of Edenic view of the newly colonized world is something I find fascinating.”
Creating the staining and ageing of the “vellum surface” on which the plants are painted became as important as the image itself. It allowed a layer of time to become part of the images and makes it seem that they have a history and authenticity. These works relate to the dystopian idea of a time where nature would be valued because it no longer exists. Guild continues: “In my work I am trying to create a fluidity between the past and the present. I am trying to harness the look and the feel of the great European still life tradition. I want to hijack the high drama and emotional integrity that resonates in the work of that era. I aim to marry that look and feel to contemporary ideas on religion, colonialism, genetic modification, sexuality, beauty and absurdity. The list is always growing and is never closed.”
While Guild’s paintings are historically informed, his sculptures are imbued with a heightened sense of contemporary realism. And like the paintings, the objects have multi-layered, open-ended meanings touching on issues of genetic modification and the commodification of nature and religion.
Born in 1963 in Perth, Scotland, Derrick Guild received his BA degree and his Postgraduate Diploma from the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Scotland. Guild had numerous solo and group museum and gallery exhibitions in Europe and the United States, and he is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Royal Scottish Academy Award on four different occasions and The Villiers David Award. His work is in many public collections including The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Guild has been teaching fine art at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art since 1992.
Guild has been showing with the Allan Stone Gallery since 1995.