Archive for December, 2007
Jack Hanley Gallery, Los Angeles, is pleased to present a solo show of the work of Donald Urquhart titled The End. The exhibit will include 12 works on paper, a painting, and a shrine surrounded by wall drawings.
About “THE END”.
The title of my show explains that this is about
endings, it is (as usual) a response to my many
friends dying and about letting go of them; saying
goodbye, calling it a day…
Five friends died this summer – one was a murder, and
while I swore after “Another Graveyard” (2005, ICA,
London and CCA Glasgow) that I was going to avoid any
further exploration of grief and mourning I have found
that I cannot avoid it so may as well go deeper into
it. My mother stopped speaking to me two Easters ago.
This has been hard to bear, and is strangely like she
has died and I have grieved – even though she is very
much alive. This ending was the inspiration behind my
show “52 GIRLS” at Maureen Paley in September, but I
broadened it to be a more general saying goodbye to
the past – be it saying farewell to a bye gone era, or
using a farewell to the past as a portal to the past.
We still have our memories even after something has
ended or is gone, and in this sense the past is always
there and so never completely or resolutely ends.
PORTALS TO THE PAST:
My ink drawings often recall hand painted captions for
silent films or lobby cards in their slightly wonky
but painstakingly neat style. And the show is in
I don’t think these images need a lot of explanation.
The swastika of flowers is inspired by the animation
in the dream sequence in Hitchcock’s VERTIGO, but
transferred to represent an unimagined scene from
Disney’s FANTASIA. History could have been different!
The dog in “Bye!” is Petey from The Little Rascals.
Who remembers him or why he always wore that circle of
make-up around his/her eye? Goodbye Petey, and goodbye
to the alien ephemera of your unfathomable era.
These faces are mainly based on photographs of men
dressed as women – mostly actors. I spent many years
getting done up in drag, and would often make a sketch
of how I wanted to look, who I wanted to look like.
Here I have drawn what I think the “girls” think they
look like. Just to keep you guessing I will not
disclose which are real girls.
A SHRINE TO THE END OF THE PAST:
Red cigarette banner
Since my days of decorating the Beautiful Bend
nightclub, and making flyers for it, I have hoarded
drawerfulls of vintage ephemera – never knowing when
something might come in handy. I find it really hard
to let go of things but that story about the man who
was killed by his book collection when it toppled on
him, that made me think. My little graveyard of the
past could become my own grave.
A recent family incident (ask me – it’s a LONG story)
has inspired this collage piece which is a shrine to
the past and a question as to whether anything truly
ends. Faded bygones, old news cuttings, record
sleeves, yellowed pages, facsimiles of old
periodicals; an assemblage of disparate elements
amassed by myself over the last twenty years or so. I
have deliberately selected mainly items with an
overall yellow color, making a jaded past which
somehow focuses on London in 1969 and 1976 (with
assorted other randomly selected times), with a lot of
other eras and history missed out. With these relics I
intend to build a smallish shrine, gluing cuttings
on pieces of cardboard. There will be some writing
over it, and drawing on the wall behind. I don’t know
if candles or fairy lights?
The piece is as useless as most totems in that it
can’t cater for everybody. We each have our own pasts
to finish. We have our own pasts to deal with. It is
no more my past than yours – although some of it is
very personal to me. Some things I didn’t really want
to part with, but felt they added something and as
this is about letting go of the past I thought I
should do some real letting go.
I promise it won’t be too miserable or maudlin.