Douglas Gordon’s specially commissioned installation, Black Burns, is a response to the full-length marble statue of the poet Robert Burns, which stands in The Great Hall of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Created by John Flaxman in 1824 and originally housed in Thomas Hamilton’s imposing Greek revivalist Burns Monument to the south of Edinburgh’s Calton Hill, the sculpture now occupies pride of place in the heart of the building designed to enshrine Scotland’s greatest figures. Gordon’s work often takes as its subject something familiar (the Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho is one famous example) and explores the ways in which memories and expectations surrounding it can be thrown off-balance by subtle interventions in the way it is presented and displayed.
Tension between opposing impulses, is a major fascination of Douglas Gordon. His work has often drawn inspiration from Scottish literature to explore a split in the wider Scottish psyche, which he sees reflected in the alter-egos, doubles and dopplegänger that proliferate in classic texts such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) and The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (1824).
Image: Douglas Gordon, Black Burns (in progress), 2017 Life-size replica based upon John Flaxman's Robert Burns sculpture at Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Black Marquinia marble, Height 1.85m © Studio lost but found / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017. Photo Studio lost but found / Francesco Paterlini. Courtesy Studio lost but found, Berlin and Gagosian.
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