Kevin Dagg: Surface Tension

by Misa Hay -

A new exhibition opens in Da Gadderie at Shetland Museum and Archives this weekend. "Surface Tension" is an exhibition of paintings and sculpture which on first glance appear unrelated. On reflection the paintings of the unique Shetland landscape reveal a connection with the figurative sculpture through the shared techniques of digital colour separation. In contrast to the physical remoteness of Shetland there is the domestic reality of instant access through digital media to global news and international events.

Artist Kevin Dagg said “I am interested in perceptions of Nature and man's longing for the sublime effects of wilderness as an antidote to the stifling confines of civilisation and the digital age. The preservation of wilderness is necessary in face of wide spread habitat destruction but it is also valued for cultural, spiritual and aesthetic reasons. My original intention for the show was to present sculptural work but on my return to Edinburgh I embarked on a series of large-scale canvases. This exhibition offers a glimpse at how I see the world both as an individual and as a member of society. The landscape is local but the conversation is global.”

Dagg travelled to Shetland to cycle around the islands to get a feel for the landscape. He was astonished by the amazing colour combinations of the moss and lichens found on the rocks and peat moors. In contrast the sculptures are a direct response to the bewildering bombardment of reportage photography. By selecting iconic images from the public domain and then translating them, they become tangible. The resulting work questions our conditioned responses and searches for the humanity in these daily images of socio-political conflict. He's looking for the individual, the non-idealised body which through its very ordinariness can convey a sense of compassion and communicate a universal truth which transcends the original news-bite story.

Kevin has participated in numerous exhibitions and residencies both in the UK and abroad. He has won several awards for his sculptures including the "Guthrie Award" and the "Benno Shotz" prize at the Royal Scottish Academy and the prize for sculpture at the Royal Glasgow Institute. In 2001 he was selected for a major award from the prestigious Pollock-Krasner Foundation in New York. He currently lives in Edinburgh and lectures part-time at Edinburgh College of Art. 

John Hunter, Shetland Museum and Archives exhibitions officer:  "While setting the fire with old newspapers my attention is sometimes caught by a photograph of a past event. Important enough to mark at the time, now an ideal base for the kindling. But occasionally an image holds on and becomes more than a transient highlight. Photographs can be vessels for personal memories while others fasten to the collective psyche. "Surface Tensions" is an intriguing exhibition where the artist has explored attributes of digitised photography to look deeper than the skin. In the paintings surfaces are pixelated, making a constructed landscape, creating a more evocative, sensitive and personal image while the sculptures give fleeting images solidness and permanence that news stories cannot. These are stunning works by a skilled artist."  

The exhibition runs from 23rd February – 31st March 2013.