Saturday, 13 February 2010
The Elusive State of Happiness
is the title of the truly marvellous retrospective exhibition of the work of Ian Breakwell. Maybe I'm biased - after all I work in Long Eaton (Ian came from there), I was Dean of the Faculty of Art & Design at the University of Derby (Ian studied there as a student, back when it was still, wonderfully, the Derby Art School) and because I had the privilege of knowing him (not well but enough to have seen his acute intelligence and artistic talent at first hand). However it seems to me that Breakwell is one of those rare UK artists who don't fit into any obviously easy 'movement' or category and consequently often get overlooked. He was genuinely a one off...the richness of his output lies in the endlessly mutating exploration of the diary form but it manifests itself in a bewildering and kaleidoscopic variety of media. I was at the opening last evening (at QUAD in Derby) and whilst I wasn't paying the work much attention (I always go to shows I care about at a quiet time when I can engage with them properly) I caught a snippet of an audiovisual piece in which he said "I'm never bored" and that comes across in everything he ever recorded - he simply found the world and everything in it fascinating. One of my favourite works is The Walking Man - go check it out... a truly original 'Breakwellian' take on the idea of the flaneur.