Duncan Bullen

    Duncan Bullen studied at Leeds Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art, and in 1991–2 was awarded the Prix de Rome Printmaking Scholarship at the British School at Rome. Since 1999 he has worked at the University of Brighton where he leads the undergraduate and postgraduate fine art programmes. Drawing is central to his work, both as an activity in its own right and as the starting point for an expanded and collaborative practice.

    He has had several solo exhibitions, including ‘Dark Light’ (2001) and ‘From Silence’, Jill George Gallery, London, (2003); ‘Night Prayers’, Eremo di Santa Caterina, Italy (2004); ‘Silence and Light’, University of Chichester (2006); and ‘A Time to Keep Silence’, Ian Rastrick Fine Art (2013). His work has also been included in many group exhibitions in the UK, US, Europe and the far East, most recently at Soundwaves Festival Brighton (2011), ‘Drawing of the World’, Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea (2009), and ‘Figuring Light; Colour and the Intangible’, Djanogly Gallery (2008), Nottingham. An artist book, Chromatic Fields, was a collaborative project with the composer Jamie Crofts. His writing includes the chapter, ‘Drawing Colour: Between the Line and the Field’, in Mobility of the Line (Birkhauser Verlag, 2013).

    For me, drawing has become a way of slowing down the making process, allowing me to explore graphic, meditative, temporal and sensory possibilities, with an economy of means. By reducing drawing to the elementary activity of making one mark after another, through a series of point-to-point connectors, each small mark becomes the trace of an action that creates both illusory space and optical transformation. Despite the visual reticence in these works, which leaves them hovering on the edge of perception, there is also a concern for the basic senses of touching and seeing as modes of visual thinking. Hence these drawings inhabit a seemingly contradictory position: between systematic geometries, and fluctuations of touch.

    Each drawing begins with an initial plotting of patterned formations derived from a basic grid, which allow for a constant interplay between structure and the spread of colour or tone. Without ever creating illusory contours, the drawings nonetheless evoke optical phenomena, such as areas of white space that appear as luminescent or containing colour, or as shapes that drift across the eye. In this sense I am interested in how the drawings highlight seeing as an active and interpretative process. They also suggest the imperfection of communication, the impossibility of sharing fully subjective experience, and may encourage us to embrace uncertainty, unknowing and doubt.


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