The acquisition in 2016 of Ken Currie’s monumental painting Tragic Form (Skate) 2014 gives pause to reflect on what the artist was trying to express in his ‘tragic form’ and how this fits in with the trajectory of his philosophical and artistic development.
In his early work, Currie set out to express a socialist critique of capitalist society and to suggest a programme for future reform and for building a new society. The work was optimistic and full of hope. But after the collapse of communism in 1989 and the exposure of its brutal, inhuman defects, Currie was no longer able to offer a blueprint for the future as a corrective to today’s evils. Instead he felt compelled, as a realist, to shine a light on social injustice, war and human violence in general. But, concentrating on the dark side of life without offering a light at the end of the tunnel, Currie was returning to an ancient way of viewing the world: that of tragedy.