Preview: Ian Breakwell – The Elusive State of Happiness

Ian Breakwell, Photo Text Sequence, (1972). © the artist's estate.

Exhibition: Ian Breakwell – The Elusive State of Happiness, QUAD Gallery, Derby, February 13 – April 18 2010

Ian Breakwell led a well-recorded life. Between the 1960s and his death in 2005 he captured many of its details in a largely unpublished visual diary.

Some is typed, some handwritten. There are drawings, photos and collages. It is a masterwork which slowly evolves over the decades. Every page is a finished piece.

Most artists would have found time for little else, but Breakwell was prolific. The organisers of his first major retrospective will have had a lot of work to choose from.

“He was an incredible, diverse artist,” says Curator Louise Clements, “We are excited with the show and to be able to offer audiences a full exploration of his life’s work, from diaries, audioworks, moving image, expanded-cinema to text, drawings and photo-collage.”

Large-scale works on show include the 32-part Estate, the 27-part Walserings, plus the artist’s last important work, BC/AD, dealing with his fatal battle with cancer.

Breakwell was born in Derby and studied at Derby College of Art. He spent much of his working life in London and his work is now to be found in the Tate, the V&A and New York’s MoMA.

International renown came from an ability to tease out the extraordinary from the ordinary. If that is not a good reason for keeping a diary, what is?

Written for Culture24.

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