The Living and The Dead: Paintings and Sculpture – Previewed

This Friday, The Walker opens its doors to one of ‘Liverpool’s Sons’…

Friday sees the Walker Art Gallery play host to the first major retrospective of the works of Liverpool born artist, John Kirby. In The Living and the Dead: Paintings and Sculpture, Kirby deals with themes around gender, religion, sexuality and race: y’know, all the safe stuff that won’t stir up any trouble!

Born into a Catholic family, Kirby sites visits to the Walker as having had a major impact in his childhood. “The heady combination of art, sex and religion was an intoxicating mix in those otherwise innocent times and something that heavily informed my work in later years.” Kirby explores such apparent religious conflicts through his artwork, one example being Lost Boys (1991, pictured). It is one of the artist’s favourite works and a direct reference to his childhood days where religion played such an integral part in life.

The exhibition, predominantly made up of paintings, also features 10 sculptures. Though a more recent development, the sculptures seem a perfectly natural and organic development of his practice, simply a means of allowing his paintings to exist in a 3D format.

The Living and the Dead: Paintings and sculpture is a worthy homecoming for Kirby, and particularly fitting that it should be at the Walker, where, as he says, it all began. “Liverpool gets under your skin; it’s not the sort of place you can be half measured about. It’s the Marmite of cities really” says Kirby. It remains to be seen whether this exhibition will be as divisive. Only one way to find out.

The Living and The Dead: Paintings and Sculpture

The Walker Art Gallery, 13th January – 15th April

Image: Lost Boys (1991) C John Kirby, courtesy of Flowers, London


Posted on 09/01/2012 by thedoublenegative