Rarities brings together rare, unique and previously unseen work from the studio archive of iconic artist Ted Dutch.
There is an undeniable humour in the work of Ted Dutch, an artist whose long career encompassed painting, printmaking, ceramic sculpture, animation and graphic design. His distinctive style of illustration drew liberally from cartoons and pop imagery, while his light-hearted choices in subject matter saw him create highly stylised, colourful and humorous responses to the anxieties of the twentieth century.
Dutch’s willingness to explore new artistic challenges saw his practice expand to encompass other technically-demanding media and processes. Through the seventies, he continued to work with screenprinting as well as returning to painting and graphic design. During this period he also began to produce complex ceramic sculpture. These three-dimensional versions of the figures that populated his paintings and prints grew increasingly refined and achieved international recognition.
Regardless of the medium chosen, Dutch’s primary creative vehicle was drawing. Thousands of small drawings and sketches were made over the years, demonstrating his tremendous confidence and skill as a draughtsman. The defining feature of Dutch’s work is the quality of his lines, which are simple yet immensely expressive. This is a product of his work in the animation industry, where simple, stylised line work is the key means of communicating emotion and action.
Although Dutch’s style varied throughout his career, several aesthetic and conceptual motifs recurred consistently throughout. He tended towards playful geometric compositions in bold, flat colours, depicting figures in various narratives and settings. There is an emphasis on expressive colour and line, and the simple pleasure of seeing. Dutch believed that “we get stuffed up by attempting to be too representational; when we try too hard to portray what something ‘should’ look like, we usually miss the point.”
Taking cues from Picasso and Mondrian, Dutch uses his playful, cartoonish style to address the prevalent anxieties of his generation. Ideas of isolation and social tension are frequently suggested, though always in a humorous, sometimes absurd manner. Dutch was keenly sensitive to the complexities of these psychological states. He evoked them effortlessly in his art, but never took himself too seriously, favouring the light over the dark.