The Royal Hibernian Academy organized a major exhibition to celebrate the centenary of Samuel Beckett (1906 – 1989).
The exhibition combines two of America’s most outstanding artists of the twentieth century together with three recent films of Beckett’s shorter plays. The exhibition is curated by RHA Director, Patrick T. Murphy, who says of the project, “This exhibition celebrates the existential truths of human existence and the rigour that each of these artists brought to creating work that offers some companionship within the bleakness of that vision. Each is bound by the human condition’s ability for suffering, humour and an unremitting resolve ‘to go on’.”
The three Beckett plays chosen are from the recent productions by Blue Angel Films/Tyrone Productions. The British artist Damien Hirst directs Breath, Neil Jordan directs Not I and Karel Reisz directs Act Without Words 1. These plays will be shown as continuous video projections in three separate rooms in the Academy’s main gallery. They will be punctuated by six of the late paintings of Philip Guston (1913-1980). Guston outraged the U.S. art world when during the nineteen sixties he swung from an accepted Abstract Expressionist style to highly individualistic figurative work which produced images of great profundity and subsequence influence. Guston’s paintings depict a Sisyphian vision of man and his place in the world.
Bruce Nauman (1941) made a significant contribution to the development of conceptual art in the early seventies and was a seminal influence in the use of video as a medium for art making. Here he shows Clown Torture, 1987 one of the most challenging and disturbing video installations ever created. Also an early video piece from 1968, Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk), will be shown. Here Nauman and Beckett’s appreciation of physical comedy unite. Nauman will also be represented by a major sculpture South America Triangle, 1981, where the lexicon of Nauman’s and Beckett’s props overlap.
Referring to the existential tremors that bind the show Murphy said, “the immense implications of the idea of a free and self-determining individual remains acutely pertinent to the everyday world. In this exhibition audiences will find their understanding of their place in the world developed, affirmed and challenged. The searing images created in painting, video, installation and drama directly speaks to the aloneness of the soul”.