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Richard Boyd-Dunlop: Death of the Skull

Richard Boyd-Dunlop

6 - 30 August 2013
Opening preview: Tuesday 6 August 5.30pm

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”
- Mark Twain

Pierre Peeters gallery is proud to present The Death of the Skull an exhibition of new work by Napier based artist Richard Boyd-Dunlop. This exhibition reflects the nature of the contemporary human condition and our innate preoccupation with death and dying.

The human skull is a prominent motif seen throughout art history. From the 16th and 17th century the vanitas mortis or memento mori - was a prominent medieval funerary art style in Flanders and the Netherlands. Memento Mori is Latin for "Remember your mortality" or "Remember you must die". Works such as Pieter Claesz' Vanitas still life (1630) are the type of symbolic still life painting which featured skulls as a reminder of the certainty of death, decaying flowers and rotten fruit - all symbolising the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.

A renaissance of the skull has been seen in the last decade with Damien Hirst - the darling of the contemporary art world. Hirst continues the Memento Mori genre with such iconic sculptures such as his platinum cast, diamond encrusted skull For the Love of God ( 2007).

There is also the influence of the German artist Sigmund Polke ( 1941 - 2010) in Boyd Dunlop's work, where the raster-dot technique of printing is used creating an effect of a fractured picture plane which draws attention to and questions the validity of the image - mass media, giving pop art a political edge.

Boyd says "This new series of skulls are perhaps my last, hence - Death of the skull."

In this new series Boyd Dunlop experiments with all the symbolic possibilities of the skull and comments on the human endeavor of overcoming of our preoccupation with death in order to encourage us all to emancipate our minds and break free of psychological and sociological constraints. Sometimes we all need a reminder to grasp the now.


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