RICHARD DUCKER


ABOUT THE ARTIST
Deceived by the world of objects, and the language to express them, Ducker’s work transforms these objects to explore the site where
language is a conflict between the desired and the expressed. Either by evoking the monumental, or revealing the formal void of the
object, the work expresses the anxiety of displacement. The narrative drives that this sets up allows the personal and the general to
coalesce around a sense of disappointment or frustration. The body  often inferred as an absent presence, referenced as either a
subject of consumer excess, or as the misplaced sense of ‘wrong place, wrong time'. The most recent work engages with the
inadequacy of language through both the dumbness of the ‘Blockhead series, and the fascination of Sci-fi iconography as a form of
meta language in the black flocked series. Richard Ducker has been a practicing artist since completing his MA at Goldsmiths in 1991.
- Richard Ducker, 2011


Richard Ducker’s sculpture continues to surprise the viewer and defy categorization; his ideas and objects are influenced by diverse
sources and paradigms that he brings together with a characteristic bravura. The sculptural objects he makes are at times both
somber and mischievous, often imbued with a sassy knowingness. Straying deliberately into various genres such as the sexually
charged fetish object or metaphorically overloaded ‘memento mori’, we encounter a rich conflation of image and object that uses and
abuses our notions of taste and cliché and turns them upside down. Success in Ducker’s work lies in use of process and skilful
manipulation of these diverse physical elements that add up to a kind of dyslexic personal poetry and grabs us by the collar with both
humor and pathos.  
- Matt Franks, 2008, Artist, Subject Leader in Sculpture, Camberwell College of Art


Emotionally evocative without ever telling a clear story, affecting without being obvious, Ducker’s sculptures seem to be there with the
mute theatricality of minimalism, yet to engage with notions of transformation. With simple formal means, they excavate fears, anxieties
and desires associated with the most visceral of physical sensations – attraction and repulsion, pleasure and pain, need and self-
sufficiency. The work keeps referring back to the body, a missing body we as viewers cannot help but imagine filling-in for with our
own, transforming it into the ill-fitting piece of a jigsaw we are trying in vain to complete with our presence.  
- Patrizia Di Bello, 2008, Professor , School of History of Art, Film and Visual Media, Birkbeck College

If Richard Ducker’s previous sculptures turned the detritus of consumer culture into monuments to our obsession with things, this new
work turns monumental sculptural tropes into dumb chunks of material poised precariously between ugliness and fascination.
‘Blockhead’ seems to speak of rough marble as a trace of the hand of the artist, yet its grammar and syntax – from the material used,
polystyrene, to the disproportionate metal ‘plinth’ from which it collapses – do not quite grasp and relay an intended meaning. Like
dyslexic writing, it leaves us uncertain as to whether it is profoundly poetic or badly structured. ‘Dark Matter’ appears to quote a
monochromatic tradition, but on close inspection the black shards, insulating material covered in flock, 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. Too casually unfinished to convince as a plaster model, ‘Untitled’ (2010) articulates its own
awkward pointlessness.
Failing to resolve into either sense or nonsense, Ducker’s sculptures turn the artist’s own alienation from language into a shared
bodily experience. They disturb the connection between form and meaning, between body and the ‘clean and proper self’ of a
subjectivity that has fully entered into language and the semiotic, yet they do not allow us to wallow in abjection and the symbolic. In
Ducker’s work, now as before, we are deceived by objects and failed by language, left in conflict between desire and meaning,
daftness and poetry.
- Patrizia Di Bello, October 2011, Professor, School of History of Art, Film and Visual Media, Birkbeck College


Unstable Relations: the paired portraits.

The idea of the double has long haunted the human imagination. The double threatens and fascinates in equal measure. Our own
mirror image attracts and repels, offering a vision of the self that is both of us and yet fundamentally separate. The innate fear that our
reflection – and by implication, our body – could act outside our control is an enduring terror, and therefore an abiding theme within
psychology, literature and art….
- Eliza Williams

‘Unstable Relations’ are a series of double portraits, paint on canvas, based on a single black and white photograph of the artist aged
around 9 years old. There is nothing remarkable about the original photograph except that the boy (the artist) is wearing a shirt and
tie and has a particularly unsympathetic haircut – yet these two features seem to take the image out of the specific and into the
general: it could have been any young boy from anytime between the 1930s and the 1970s. It was this that fascinated: the implications
of the specific memory of a specific moment for the artist conflated with an historicism that was as much to do with fiction, history
lessons, tv and movies, as well as the archival. Suddenly I, the artist, and I, the little boy, become I, the inventor of history. Was I a
member of the Nazi youth or just an over dressed little boy from the 50s, was I going to a party with my parents or dressed for church,
was I a public school toff or off to work in the East End? Nostalgia and history seemed to pour out of, and into, this image. It is this
movement of memory and fiction that makes the image so unstable and imprecise, and therefore curious – it is a paranoiac experience
with both recall and invention having its effect.

All the paintings are cropped slightly differently and with varying degrees of detail. Each pair is painted as similar as possible. This in
itself is a strange experience to muster – at times intense and absurd. It both undermines and enhances the fiction that painting can
get to a deeper truth – there is more depth to the painted image, but repeated, it returns to the photographic. Meanwhile the eye is
constantly moving from one image to the other, looking for differences which of course exist – it is painting – a process that makes
visible the impossibility of a singular moment, or at least to recall it as one. To further occupy this territory between the photographic
and the painted all the paintings are given a red glaze. This has the effect of not reading them as either painting or photography, but
rather as both simultaneously. The glaze also adds to their paranoiac presence while suggesting the otherness of the archive image
being caught under the developer’s light – itself now a strange but magical archaic process.

The ink drawings come out of 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 the horror of the contemporary. Where the sculptures explore an alienation from language through the
use of the displacement of Sci-Fi, these images come directly off the Internet: newsreel, mobile phone up loads, etc. They are images
of smoke after explosions taken from current conflicts. Rather than trying to represent horror with horror, their scale is deliberately
small (postcard size) and framed, as a means of reducing its sublime to pocket size, while the digital image of convenience made
analogue.
- Richard Ducker, 2012


Richard Ducker has exhibited widely through out the UK and internationally, including the following: 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; Café Gallery, London; and 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.

Information on Richard Ducker can also found on Fieldgate Gallery at
www.fieldgategallery.com.
Richard continues to exhibit and curate shows in London and elsewhere and
has work in a number of private collections internationally.

Education:

Goldsmiths College, University of London   M.A.  Fine Art
Reading University    B.A.  Fine Art

Artwork in private collections in Britain, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Australia and Singapore
PAINTINGS-DRAWINGS