Witnessing the rapid transformation and collapse of all infrastructure in my country of origin, Zimbabwe, my reaction was to employ a similar form of entropy in the painting protocol. The entropy of my pictorial process serves not to describe a negative state of affairs, but to affirm my faith in paint and its capacity to speak of the flux and rapid change of our era. The simultaneity of images that is the core of my images making process provokes an “up-ending” which speaks to me in paint: between balance and loss of balance, the image becomes active and speaks about our times. Using the awesome arrangements wrought by inhuman forces such as typhoons, and earthquakes, or man made chaos, the imagery functions as a metaphor for the process of painting itself: building on the canvas surface a series of pictorial “events” which reflect what is happening in my head and in my painting, and simultaneously in the world around us. By multiplying the documentary sources of my images, the painting escapes description: it engenders its own details and debris, and the finished work does not refer back to a specific place, instead a more generic and universal idea - Duncan Wylie, London, 2017
In the midst of fashions and trend dictates, Duncan Wylie dedicates himself to the true purpose of art and of painting: to express and portray the deep structure and the multilayeredness of the world, of potentiality within reality, the clamour of being (even if it is only the loudness of the creative mind that perceives such a reality). In great art, in art of the genius, you always seem to have another world emerging within, or beneath, the world that is ostensibly presented, and seems to live in the mutual osmosis of both worlds, respectively world visions. Isn ́t that the eternal purpose of art and the true meaning of art? Duncan Wylie portrays the deep structure of the world in an age where, according to scientific speculations, our universe is embedded in an infinity of multiverses, in which we, most personally, appear with alternating biographies. Duncan Wylie has found new solutions to portray the richness and depth of the world.
Born in Zimbabwe in 1975, a certain nomadism is evident in Duncan Wylie's biography – who currently lives and works in London. The experience of the expulsion of (in Zimbabwe not only of white but also, and at distinctly higher magnitude, black) settlers and the destruction of their homes, not least also with the purpose of destroying their identity and sense of community, acts of destruction and devastated architectures become a basic motif in the works of Duncan Wylie – transcended into the task of portraying the moment, the impact – maybe even the event, as well as of chance and fate and the metaphysical Unbehaustheit of man within an existence in which meaning and salvation is obviously absent, or needs to be constructed in the first place. Deeply existential motives.
Although there usually are no people portrayed in his paintings – apart from intermittent enigmatically blunt and direct portraits, for instance of Robert Mugabe – it is the character of the tightrope walker that emerges in Duncan Wylie’s more recent works. A wanderer between worlds, who laboriously constructs his own self, an original artist, navigating between chaos and cosmos as the elements of art – the self construction and gradual empowerment of man in a potentially chaotic world, the acquirement of autonomous subjectivity, sovereign against the impositions of the world seem to be the message Duncan Wylie wants to transmit to man – to a lesser extend as a harsh, authoritarian appeal than as an indication of hope and as a sign of respect for the individual tightrope walking within one ́s own challenges of each and everyone of us.
In his most recent works, which are presented by the Dukan Gallery for the first time, Duncan Wylie seems to have pushed forward to a subject that wanders on a somehow safer track (railroad tracks) and that seems to become overlaid by his own inner material, in a productively chaotic way, a subject that seems to become ever more rich and complex. He calls them "self constructing figures". The double meaning of "construct" seems to have been an inspiration: since a "construct" can have a definitive, material, objective substance, yet can also be something rather subjective (i.e. an "ideological construct") – a materialisation of creativity at any rate. Do we have an exploration of the interdependence that is subjective – objective? The osmosis of both? Also take a look at how the "exploding" subjects and the background of the world they are situated in obviously interfere with each other. Both figurative and abstract art. The architecture in those works is meanwhile intact, and the world seemingly a safer place.
Duncan Wylie presents himself in a new fashion with his engravings "(Various) Disasters of Democracy": Drypoint etchings that are reminiscent of Alfred Kubin and seem to refer to the "demonic" in the world – does Duncan Wylie also explore the possibilities that lie within surrealism? Duncan Wylie’s art remains – what is rarely the case in our days – universal, with messages of universal significance and validity. Nothing escapes its focus, in the hope that it transmits there is admonition, in its admonition there is hope. Philip Hautmann (b. 1977 in Linz, Austria), is a writer and philosopher and lives in Vienna.