Coming Up # 2, 2004 - 2005, oil and wax on canvas, 132cm x432cm (collection Royal Bank of Scotland)

 

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Where’s Dora? (cont.)
by Olga Gambari translated from the Italian by Miriam Hurley and Claudia Ricci (catalogue essay for “Where’s Dora” Mar & Partners, Turin 2007)

Nick Gammon is a Welsh artist, who lived in Ireland and London, and travelled extensively in the United States and Central America before moving to Biarritz. The story behind his latest body of work begins way back in 1974, when he was twelve years old and started surfing in Wales. It’s a sport, a passion, with a whole philosophy and mythology of it’s own, inspired by the search for freedom Surfing means challenging the waves, the sea as nature’s defining element, the epitome of water and sky, the infinite, life and death. Human beings seek to tame the ocean with a board, putting to use their courage, intelligence and intuition in a game in which one stands alone with the infinite. Surfing is also a word that excites the imagination with warm seas, sun-baked sand and skin, an easygoing lifestyle, free from the rules of everyday life, where you can go barefoot in boardshorts – a world often seen as a stereotype. Against a backdrop of tropical flowers, palm trees and sunsets.
Hawaii is idealized as the archetypical tropical paradise for Americans, along with other exotic locales, and, of course, California. Here originates the coding of floral patterns inspired by tropical plants that once embellished shirts and sarongs and now are the patterns for all vacation and leisure clothing. This iconographic world mingles with Beach Boys music, a collection of movies including the famous John Milius film from 1978, Big Wednesday, and a line of heroes, surfers with “stage names”, characters defining the type of life they incarnated. One such figure was Dora, to whom Gammon dedicated the first work in the Green Room series, in 2003, a large diptych dominated by blue: Where’s Dora?


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