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RICHARD DUCKER: DARK MATTER

dalla Rosa Gallery 08.03 - 28.03.2013

dalla Rosa Gallery | 121 Clerkenwell Road | London EC1R 5BY | dallarosagallery.com


Richard Ducker: Dark Matter at dalla Rosa Gallery, installation view


RICHARD DUCKER: DARK MATTER 8 – 28 March 2013 dalla Rosa Gallery is proud to present Dark Matter, a solo exhibition of sculptures and work on paper by Richard Ducker. This new body of work is based on a specific vision of war, portrayed through delicate ink drawings and sculptures suggesting a post-conflict scenario. “The ink drawings come from a desire to find a means of politicising the Dark Matter sculptures I had been working on at the same time, as a way of confronting a horror within the contemporary. Where the sculptures explore an alienation from language through displacement, the ink drawings respond to images directly. Gleaned from the Internet, they are (news reel, mobile phone uploads) images of lingering smoke after explosions from current conflicts.” “As Vilém Flusser states: The photographic image elevates the historical event to a ‘trans-historical’ level, taking it outside the flow of historical events. Google search amplifies this process, compressing time and flattening space. Rather than emulate this by represent horror with horror, the scale of the drawings are deliberately that of the postcard, reducing its sublime to pocket size. The digital image of convenience made analogue.” (Richard Ducker, 2013) The series of delicate drawings are confronted with shard-like dark sculptures that seem to draw all surrounding light to their jet-black core. Writing about Ducker’s recent work Patrizia Di Bello (Birkbeck College) noted: “If his previous sculptures turned the detritus of consumer culture into monuments to our obsession with things, the new work, Dark Matter appears to quote a monochromatic tradition. However, on close inspection the black shards have just as much in common with the discarded props of a pre CGI sci-fi movie, when such concoctions had to make do as interstellar debris floating in deep space or the rough surface of a new planet.”


Richard Ducker has exhibited throughout the UK and internationally, including: ICA (London); Kettles Yard (Cambridge); Serpentine Gallery (London); Royal Academy (Edinburgh); Mappin Gallery (Sheffield); The Yard Gallery (Nottingham); The Kitchen (New York); Flowers Central (London); Cell Project Space (London); Katherine E Nash Gallery (Minnesota, USA); Standpoint Gallery (London); CafĂŠ Gallery (London); Anthony Reynolds Gallery (London). In 2006 Ducker was founder and director of Fieldgate Gallery. The space was 10,000 square feet warehouse in Whitechapel, London, and over two and half years hosted 18 exhibitions. Since the space closed in 2008 he has continued to curate under the name of Fieldgate Gallery at a variety of different venues. For further information contact hello@dallarosagallery.com All installation photos by Philip John Jones.

Richard Ducker: Dark Matter at dalla Rosa Gallery, installation view


Richard Ducker: Dark Matter at dalla Rosa Gallery, installation view


RICHARD DUCKER Q&A with Giovanna Paternó (February 2013) GP: Your practice has been mostly developed through sculpture and 3D installation, did you find working with paper challenging at first? RD: I’ve worked in 2D at various times over my career, so it was not such a major shift, though I’d never worked on paper before as an end in of its self. That aspect was unfamiliar, and tricky at first - ink and paper are very unforgiving of ‘mistakes’ and I quickly realised that these drawings were going to work, or not, with total immediacy. It was this aspect that I really enjoyed. Sculpture, for the most part involves some degree of planning and material intervention that on a very basic level has to come to terms with gravity. In that regard, the drawings enabled me to find an activity that was free from those concerns. They were very intense, and I found I had to strip myself of exterior distractions to begin working on them. Once I understood what I was looking for it became a balancing act between controlling the ‘mistakes’ - or rather negotiating certain lack of control - and holding on to the image. This was deliberate, so that the ink itself behaved almost like smoke as it touched the water soaked paper. GP: What is the connection between Dark Matter sculptures and drawings? RD: At first I’m not sure there was any, though being shown together there are some obvious connections. I didn’t make them with each other in mind. The sculptures came from in interest in the language of pre CGI Sci-fi props, partly as a meta language, and partly as a way of making work that comes from a more apparently Modernist, even formal approach. They are also a deliberate failed project in that sense, to the extent that their status as sculpture gives way to stage prop on close inspection. The introduction of the car body parts were to steer them away from being purely formal, and address earlier concerns of mine, that of consumer excess.  However, I also wanted them to be read as petals of this strange alien form. I’d like to think that all these readings are somehow in the work. The drawings take that engagement with the development of form to a more immediate state though they may not look it, they are highly contingent on the act of making. Together, the sculptures and drawings then start to inform each other in ways not necessarily intended: the drawings probably suggest a militaristic reading

Richard Ducker, Dark Matter (2012), ink on paper


of the sculptures. Conversely, the car body parts take on a less poetic reading in the light of the drawings, and perhaps there are references to video games that become apparent too. I find this dialogue between the two bodies of work quite interesting, as they are not prescribed within the work, and can be unexpected. GP: I find your way of using ink to re-create images of detonations very incisive – it makes me think of Goya and Otto Dix, their crude depiction of war and barbarities, black and white pictures that need no extra colours to become more striking. Were you aware of any such influences while you were working on the Dark Matter series? RD: Goya yes, not so much Dix. I think that is partly a result of their scale. There is a ‘postcards from the front’ element about them. I was looking to humanise the images in some way, to arrest the flow and disposability of horror that Google enables, and 24 hour news confirms. There are a number of ways I could have gone about this, but it seemed to me that the presence artist’s hand was integral to this. With that in mind, it was also what I was technically capable of having some control over. I quickly found that drawing or painting just didn’t have the ambiguity I wanted, and colour seemed a distraction. But these are difficult issues, I didn’t want the short hand of black and white photo journalism, and I was aware of the danger of over romanticising, but I think by being elastic with these reference points one can be pulled up by the image that goes beyond its pure spectacle. GP: You use Google as the main source of explosions’ photos – sadly there must be millions of images available, how do you select them? RD: That is an interesting question, because despite what I’ve just said to your last question, selection of the images are entirely aesthetic. Put bluntly, certain explosions work better than others. It is to do with the image allowing the drawing to move away from the pictorial, and giving an independence to the ink as a form of mark-making. The image is merely a structure, a point of departure. In fact, the drawings often bare no relationship to the original image, but strangely enough I find it impossible to do one of these drawings

Richard Ducker, Dark Matter (2012), ink on paper


Richard Ducker: Dark Matter at dalla Rosa Gallery, installation view


without an image as a starting point. They become generic and predictable. Part of the process of selection is how the smoke fills the space, or travels over the space, that suggests a degree of abstraction, or flatness. I then crop the image to not only remove it from its specific local, but also remove the horizon, allowing the smoke/ink to float across the page. GP: How is the size of the paper you use relevant to the project? RD: I experimented with different scales, and even thought about making epic paintings at one point. But I’m not a painter, and didn’t want to enter the discourse of painting which would have been inevitable. Once I’d realised that ink was the medium that was going to work for me, I very quickly discovered, on a purely technical level, that this postcard size worked. I could control the lack of control over the movement of ink, while also maintaining some degree of reference to the image. Any smaller it became a mess, and any larger it became stilted and pictorial. It was serendipity that it also corresponded with the postcard dimensions, which seemed to add to arrest of the image: spectacle made small carries a different but just as powerful punch I hope. The paper size, as opposed to image size, was a development that came out of different experiments with size of image. I found having the image float on a larger sheet seemed to carry the image with a certain authority, while at the same time allowing for a degree of vulnerability and fragility.


RICHARD DUCKER Richard Ducker studied BA in Fine Art at Reading University and has an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmith’s. SELECTED EXHIBITIONS 2012 Politics of Amnesia, Café Gallery (London) The curator’s Egg, Anthony Reynolds gallery (London) 2011 Two-person exhibition, Angus Hughes (London) 2010 Suface warp Factor, Aubin Gallery (London) Double Trouble, Blythe Gallery (London) Null and Void (solo exhibition), Oblong Gallery (London) 2009 Cooler Warmer, Standpoint Gallery (London) Dumbwaiter, James Taylor Gallery (London) Saxon, Schwartz Gallery (London) First, Oblong Gallery (London) Concerning Matter, Collyer Bristow Gallery (London) The Sculpture Show, V22 (London) 2008 Heart of Glass, Flora Fairburn Projects (London) Fluid Foundations, Wharf rd Project (London) Words Fail Me (solo exhibition), Gone Tomorrow (London) Wastestate, Bearspace (London) Enchanted, Katherine E Nash Gallery (Minnesota, USA) Matt Franks, Sheena Macrae, Richard Ducker, Fieldgate Gallery (London) 2007 Dirty Turkey, Gone Tomorrow Gallery (London) 2006 Grotto, Studio 1.1 (London) No–ship, SevenSeven Gallery (London) 2005 Small is Beautiful, Flowers Central (London) Hard Labour, Cell Project Space (London) Richard Ducker, Dark Matter Flower (2011), compressed polystyrene, resin, black flock


2004 Sonya’s Office (solo exhibition), 21 New Fetter La (London) 2002 Growth & Form, The Yard Gallery (Nottingham) 2001 Art for Plot, The Kitchen (New York) Wellcome Trust, TWO10 Gallery (London) 2000 SSA 2000, Royal Academy (Edinburgh) 1998 Store (solo exhibition), Cable Street Gallery (London) 1997 WheNever, Commercial Too (London) 1996 Nicepace, Commercial Too (London) 1994 Inflation Saints, Shad Thames (London) 1993 Art for Equality, ICA (London) Contingent, Clove Gallery, (London) 1992 Face Values, Kettles Yard (Cambridge) Barclays Young Artist Award, Serpentine Gallery (London)

Richard Ducker: Dark Matter at dalla Rosa Gallery, installation view


Š 2013 Richard Ducker & dalla Rosa Gallery, all rights reserved dalla Rosa Gallery | 121 Clerkenwell Road | London EC1R 5BY | dallarosagallery.com

RICHARD DUCKER: Dark Matter  

Solo exhibition at dalla Rosa Gallery, 8 -28 March 2013

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