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Octavia Nicholson


(b Bristol, June 7, 1965).

English sculptor, installation artist, painter, and printmaker. He was a leading figure in the group of ‘Young British Artists’ who emerged, predominantly in London, in the 1990s. He studied at Goldsmiths’ College, London (1986–9), and in 1988 curated the exhibition Freeze, which provided a new platform to show his own work and that of many of his Goldsmiths’ contemporaries, some of whom have since become internationally renowned. His works are explicitly concerned with the fundamental dilemmas of human existence; his constant themes have included the fragility of life, society’s reluctance to confront death, and the nature of love and desire, often clothed in titles which exist somewhere between the naive and the disingenuous. The works typically make use of media that challenge conventional notions of high art and aesthetic value and subject-matter that critiques the values of late 20th-century culture.

Dead animals are frequently used in Hirst’s installations, forcing viewers to consider their own and society’s attitudes to death. Containers such as aquariums and vitrines are also hallmarks of his work; reflecting the formal influence of Minimalism and certain sculptures by Jeff Koons, they are used as devices to impose control on the fragile subject-matter contained within them and as barriers between the viewer and the viewed. ...


Morgan Falconer

(b Liverpool, April 27, 1966).

English painter and printmaker. He studied at Sheffield City Polytechnic (1985–8) and at Goldsmiths’ College, London (1995–8). He emerged in the mid-1990s with paintings that he described as ‘cognitive landscape’. Built up from a series of black-and-white silhouettes, his images often seem simultaneously like collections of schematic motifs and like scenes derived from a specific viewpoint, often rigidly defined by fences and plants placed in the immediate foreground. Such is the case with Raik (1999; see June 1999 article, p. 29), which depicts large silhouettes of spiky thistles crowding up in the foreground, while softer, cartoon renditions of clouds, trees and hills sit on a distant horizon line; it is typical of his work in its dramatic contrast between foreground and background. The schematic and synthetic quality of Morrison’s imagery and compositions alike is encouraged by his method of working, which involves the use of computers to manipulate motifs and projectors to transfer the compositions to canvas. His imagery has often been sourced from botanical textbooks, though the common motif of the dandelion, and other softer forms, seem to suggest children’s cartoons as well. The influence of Patrick Caulfield acknowledged by Morrison not only provides a precedent for his own linear style but also suggests his understanding of imagery as highly mediated; this is clearly relevant to Morrison’s treatment of landscape, since the genre is commonly associated with a sense of authenticity and direct contact with nature. Morrison also produced lithographs and large-scale wall paintings: ...


Morgan Falconer

(b Manchester, July 5, 1953).

English painter and printmaker. He received an MFA from Goldsmiths’ College, London, in 1982. While his earliest work was entirely abstract, it bore the influence of Modernist collage, and in that it suggested a search for more direct systems of reference which resolved itself in a turn towards figurative painting in large canvases of the early 1980s. A residency at the National Gallery, London, in 1985 led to a series of works which drew on earlier sources: Deposition (1985; see 1986 exh. cat., p. 35) condensed one of Rembrandt’s versions of the subject to the image of the body being enclosed by the earth; such motifs dominated O’Donoghue’s work at this time. The picture also brought together elements that continued to appear in his later work: violent brushwork, a palette of starkly contrasting colours and religious themes. The Fires series (see 1989 exh. cat.) which followed retained these elements, though it marked a return to greater abstraction. In ...


John-Paul Stonard

(b London, Dec 12, 1958).

English sculptor, painter, printmaker and installation artist. He studied at Goldsmiths’ College (1979–82) under Michael Craig-Martin, for whom he briefly worked as an assistant, and emerged as an influential figure on the British art scene in the 1980s, with a highly inventive series of painted metal sculptures. These humorous and playful sculptures combined a loosely painted imagery with steel shapes, as in the case of This One Took Ages to Make (1983; New York, Mr and Mrs A. Safir priv. col., see 1994 exh. cat., p.15), representing a red typewriter supported by the loose pages that fall from it. Towards the end of the 1980s his sculptures became larger, more austere and minimal, and were often based on a relationship between art and architecture. As his work developed it dealt increasingly with the exploration of visual and spatial experience, often with reference to digital simulation. Imagine You are Walking (1–18)...