Douglas Gordon

Douglas Gordon is one of the most prominent British artists of his generation. He trained at Glasgow School of Art and then at Slade School of Art, London. He has achieved huge international recognition, marked by major awards, including the Turner Prize in 1996, and by exhibitions in museums in Europe and America.

The ARTIST ROOMS collection contains five important works dating from 1995 to 2010, including a large video installation, three video monitor pieces and a text-based work. These cover many of Gordon’s recurrent themes such as recognition and repetition, time and memory, authorship and authenticity, as well as dualities such as darkness and light, positive and negative, and the tensions between good and evil.

Douglas Gordon, A Divided Self I and II, 1996

The video work Film Noir (Fly) 1995 – depicting a fly in close-up, fixed to a table top by its wings as it struggles and eventually dies – demonstrates how a simple image can produce complex or even troubling readings. A Divided Self I and II 1996, which references the classic novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of 1886 by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94) is an example of Gordon exploring themes such as supposed opposites within a single piece.

Gordon has produced a large number of text-based works, which often generate a dialogue between the artist and the viewer, who is directly addressed by the text. The work I am the curator of my own misery 2010, is an example, which prompts questions of perception and meaning. The installation Looking down with his black, black, ee 2008 takes its title from a popular Scottish poem about a bird sitting on a treetop, while looking down on a group of children, suggesting foreboding menace.

Douglas Gordon, Looking down with his black, black, ee, 2008
Douglas Gordon, I am the curator of my own misery, 2010

Onto the huge, free-standing screens which form part of the video installation Play Dead, Real Time 2003 images are projected of an elephant acting out an old circus trick: playing dead. The two screens are virtually the same size as the elephant. The small television monitor that forms part of the same installation concentrates on the elephant’s eye. By separating the image this way Gordon alludes to the relationship between the body and mind.

Douglas Gordon, Play Dead Real Time, 2003