I get up early to paint. It started as a way to orient myself around the working day, but now it has become habit. My small studio has a single window that frames the clouds outside. In this rented cell, I feel at home. It is my space and a place I can be myself. I put on my headphones and fall into music, thinking about a measure of humanity that is abstract, mad and pervasive. A need for companionship. A need for space. A need for respect. Work in call centres, work in restaurants, in warehouses, building sites, art galleries. A friend who puts their arm around another‘s shoulder. Tense exchanges between colleagues. Sex and desire. A lot about love and a lot about death. I look at the dynamic between the two characters in the image. I think about the expression on an ice-cream seller’s face at the weekend. I wonder what must have put him at such odds with the gifted happiness of his occupation. I am on a train home watching an old man pull a beer from his bag and take a sip. A rolled cigarette is tucked behind his ear. It is yesterday, and I am hanging the work of another artist in the home of a collector. The place is a maze of creativity and history, organised around a single personality. I am scared to sneeze, but I hope I can make them happy. I am in a board room and I am wearing the suit that I was born to wear. I have fulfilled my potential, an example for my social class to aspire to, but I have lost myself in the process.
I look outside at the Euclidean Berlin cityscape but disappear into the forests and the fields where I grew up, the racecourses where I used to hang out and drink, the hard pebbled beaches on the South coast of England. I am not nostalgic but the depths of my past are part of this story. I am trying to focus, to boil it down to the sediment in a single image. As I do, I connect with artists and a history that has come before me. William Blake, Otto Dix, Modersohn Becker, Gustav Courbet, Phillip Guston, Fra Angelico, the list goes on. I know that I am in good company.
Rory Biddulph is a visual artist born in Britain and based in Berlin, Germany. He studied at Newcastle University (2006-2010) and the Slade School of Fine Art (2013-2015). He recently showed in the John Moores Painting Prize 2020 at the Walker Art Museum and The Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize 2021 at Coventry Cathedral. Previous exhibition highlights include the Adrian Carruthers Award (2015), The Clifford Chance Purchase Prize (2016 ) and the XL Catlin Art Prize (2016).
Why Do You Give Me No Answer? 26.10.2021 - 7.11.2021, s-l-i-c-e, Ufer Studios, Berlin
Follow me: @rorybiddulph
Rory Biddulph is the co-founder of s-l-i-c-e, a curatorial partnership which runs exhibitions out of Ufer Studios, Berlin.
To find out more about s-l-i-c-e and the upcoming program please visit:
Follow s-l-i-c-e: @slice.berlin