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WORK OF THE WEEK | 1 April 2019

CAG.2254 Gerard Dillon, Stunts, collage on paper, 30 x 56 cm. Donated, 2006 (Great Southern Collection). © the artist's estate.

We’re sending some joy out into the world with our WORK OF THE WEEK!

You may well mistake this image as an ad for electronic music duo Daft Punk. Simply entitled Stunts, however, it is in fact a collage by Gerard Dillon (1916-1971). The Belfast-born artist creates an animated, semi-abstract composition in which two figures and a dog are engaged in a display of acrobatics.

The two masked figures - based on the character of Pierrot - represent a recurring element in Dillon's work which usually suggest loneliness, but here may mean companionship. In pantomime and commedia dell’arte, Pierrot is often the butt of jokes and pranks but, with great pathos, is also the ultimate artist or outsider figure.

It has been noted, by Riann Coulter, that ‘as an artist, a northern nationalist and a gay man, [Dillon] had much to fear from the power of the Catholic Church, civil-rights abuses in the North, social conservatism throughout Ireland and State sanctions on homosexuality.’ It is therefore possible to see an emotional intensity in this deceptively simple collage, particularly through Dillon’s use of the enigmatic red shape (a fingerprint?) at the centre of his composition.

Ideas of identity, performance, and social interaction therefore all appear to be present in Stunts. Despite this, however, the artist balances such content, much like his stunt-people, with more outwardly playful and masterful qualities.

Stunts by Gerard Dillon is featured in HEROES & VILLAINS, which must close 14 April 2019.

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