Title and shape of this show refer to a series of paintings and etchings by the 18th century English artist William Hogarth: A Rake’s Progress. These series recount the story of the young man Tom Rakewell, a boy from the countryside who inherits a sum of money. He sets off for the big city, wastes his fortune on drinking, gambling and sex, and ends up in prison where he dies at a young age.
In the 60s of the 20th century, David Hockney chose these series of etchings by Hogarth as his source of inspiration. He depicted his personal experiences, while visiting New York for the first time in his life.
McDermott’s version of A Rake’s Progres is not about a rake that is being punished for his misbehavior (Hogarth), neither does it concern an autobiographical report (Hockney).
McDermott’s protagonist is an artist-prophet, who is able to see beyond what others around him can see. At the same time he acknowledges that what he can see is beyond the human ability to comprehend.
Being able to see beauty and grace, but at the same time remaining blocked from it, staying a voyeur, is an essential theme for McDermott. The diptych: Untitled, represents two figures spying on a woman, bathing. The shape of an arm, central in the panel, is a reoccurring motive in McDermott’s oeuvre. Here it marks not only visually the boundary between the two panels, but it also indicates that two different worlds are at stake, the one remaining blocked from the other. The artist was influenced by, amongst others, propaganda wall paintings from the Soviet Union as well as some larger paintings of Picasso, like “la Guerre et la Paix” from 1952.
Dave McDermott (1974, Santa Cruz) lives and works in Brooklyn. In 2007 he completed his Master degree in Fine Art from the Parsons School of Design in New York. In that same year he received the Deans Scholar Award. A catalogue will be published on the occasion of Dave McDermott’s exhibition at GRIMM.
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