The daughter of artist/musician Ian Dury has opened a retrospective of her father’s art work, at the Royal College of Art, an institution that he graduated from over four decades ago. in order to mount the first ever retrospective of his work, crowd funding became a key factor in raising the money needed.
When Dury formed his band Kilburn and the High Roads in 1971 he retired from painting and pursued music instead, quietly tucking away an outstanding body of artwork, 90% of which has been stored in a plan chest ever since. Most of these works have never been shown before and they are fantastic! Now, you will have the privilege of being able to do so at Ian’s alma mater, the Royal College of Art. There is FREE ADMISSION, it’s an easily accessible gallery, right next to the Albert Hall.
The Dury family still owns much of the collection which makes up the largest part of the show. In addition a significant number of the pieces are lent by his close friends and associates. Jemima also went further afield and fortuitously found one or two pieces via auction houses such as Christie’s or with independent art dealers, who have kindly agreed to loan their Ian Dury works to make this a very complete exhibition.
The show has two co-curators who have aided and abetted this project every step of the way. They are Kosmo Vinyl ( see video), a close friend of Ian’s, who promoted, publicised and presented for the Blockheads during those very iconic Stiff Records days and then went on to manage The Clash; and Jules Balme a graphic designer who worked alongside Barney Bubbles in the art department at Stiff, designing some of the defining album and single covers of the post punk era. Together, they are very passionate about Ian’s work and feel it is of significant cultural importance, reflecting and defining an era in British painting from 1961- 1972 during which Pop Art entered the arena.
Ian was influenced by the painter (and close friend) Sir Peter Blake who encouraged him to draw and paint what he loved. He immersed himself in popular culture, sourcing images from music, film and fashion and using media like sequins, acrylic and stencil lettering. Dury created vibrant, colourful patterned images from which emerge beautifully drawn sensual graphite figures. The combination of patterned background and monotone figure is thematic of his work and the look of the figures is highly evocative of the sixties when he was most active as a painter.
“I first encountered Ian Dury’s work when I was co-curating the Royal College’s 175th Anniversary exhibition in 2012-13, and we included two of his pictures in the show. At school in the 1970s I grew up with Dury’s music, but while I knew he had gone to art school I had no real idea what he had achieved as a visual artist. Looking at his pictures I was enormously excited by their visual inventiveness and vitality, but also by their sheer quality. It made me realise this was an important major voice within British Pop Art of the 1960s – a distinctive, imaginative and highly original creative force. His use of textual and photorealist elements, and his incorporation of celebrities, singers or showgirls, ally his pictures with major Pop proponents such as Peter Blake and Joe Tilson. Dury’s pictures also have something of the same quality as his music – vitality, a native sense of vernacular wit and irony, and a real sense of joi de vivre. I am enormously excited we will have the chance to see Ian Dury’s pictures exhibited together for the first time” says; Robert Upstone Director, The Fine Art Society.
Open to the public from Tomorrow
Ian Dury Retrospective RCA, Kensington Gore 23 July-Ist Sept. Free
Watch Video Here