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About Zhivago Duncan

Born: 1980, Terre Haute, Indiana, USA

Lives and works in Berlin, Germany


1999: BFA Verdala international High-school Malta
2007: BFA Chelsea College of Art and Design

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Zhivago Duncan

Practice: painting, sculpture

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 We'll be honest: although Zhivago Duncan is the kind of artist we often feel we ought to feature on artbroth - rapidly emerging and on the point of widespread recognition - until very recently we weren't entirely convinced by his work.

Granted, there was plenty to like about his gritty yet glam take on Pop, but less to really admire: after all, there's nothing hugely exciting about repackaging art's most easily emulated genre with added graffiti and faddish fluoro.

It's an issue, moreover, that Duncan himself seems to have been highly aware of, spinning out a dubious semblance of substance through the invention of 'alter egos' and an avowed intention to expose the superficial in ways that Warhol simply left implicit.

A recent solo show at CFA Berlin, however, changed our minds completely. This rambunctious array of powerful painting and bold sculptural automata brought to the fore something Duncan's previous work had seriously lacked: the makings of an original, rather than appropriated, voice.

Lessons learnt have been duly assimilated, and Zhivago Duncan seems headed in newer, far more compelling, directions.

Added Feb 2012

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Artist's statement:

Drawing as much from the forefront of contemporary Pop culture as the bowels of forgotten history, my work provides a close examination of our society's excessive infatuation with glamour, fortune, and fame. Building upon the dialogue begun by the Pop artists, I seek to underscore the superficiality of celebrity status in the face of current trends of cultural, economic, and environmental decay. Utilizing the accessibility and ease of execution offered by contemporary strategies of appropriation, my latest works appear muddy and garbled, mimicking the messy culture which they represent. Whether silk-screened portraits of celebrities long forgotten or sculptural remnants of abandoned muscle cars, my aesthetic of damage and tarnish serves to pay homage to the countless icons that have been lost in the depths of time.

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