Painter Charlie Duck’s new book frames two years of work “by memory and the seasons”
Full Gas presents drawings, paintings and prints that were made spontaneously and without objective, allowing natural motifs and themes to surface over time.
- Daniel Milroy Maher
- 6 October 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Charlie Duck is a London-based artist whose practice “explores drawing and its expanded field.” This encompasses painting, print, and ceramics, though all of these mediums revolve around his central focus: drawing. His new book, Full Gas, which is published by Landfill Editions, brings together two years’ worth of paper-based explorations, carried out between 2018 and 2020. “The drawings began shortly after a four-month solo exhibition at Pump House Gallery in London which was open for all of summer 2018,” he explains. “It was the first time I had exhibited in a public institution and the show was the culmination of a lot of time spent working and thinking. As the show closed, I began producing small drawings and paintings, working for the sake of working.” Charlie’s newfound freedom, which allowed him to “reengage with making work in an open and spontaneous fashion” led to 220 individual artworks, which are presented chronologically within the book.
The artworks range in size and materials, from small 5 x 8 cm works to large 30 x 40 cm ones, and from oil painting, watercolour and printing ink, to pencil, pastel, charcoal and felt tip. The book, printed using offset lithography, was designed by Hugh Frost, who adopted an approach that was “very sympathetic to how the work had been made.” He “spread the works across pages, wrapping around edges and across spines to give a sense of momentum as the book progresses.” This momentum corresponds with Charlie’s own journey through these two years, producing works that were inspired by those that came before and creating an interdependency of sorts between each one. This provided the series with obvious energy but proved to be problematic when trying to structure the book in some way. Eventually, Charlie and Hugh agreed on dividing the works by season, which helped to “give a sense of pace and rhythm to the pages.”
Thematically, the book is not tied to any overarching concept, though there are elements of art history, personal biography, travel, the anecdotal and the quotidian within some of the works. We can also observe “multiple shifts in interests and thinking” that are shown by various motifs found throughout. “As you work through, the book forms and motifs gather momentum whilst others disappear only to reappear much later, having lain dormant for months,” explains Charlie. “Some of the works towards the end of the book seem to have an energy and lightness that resonates with me still and I can remember well the process of making them. In the later works, the motifs become more assured, the language has a logic that though strange, feels coherent.”
This recurring imagery includes cars, worms, sleeping people, serpents, water, lakes, plants, snails, hats and limbs. Interestingly, the notable presence of cars in the book ended up influencing Charlie’s titling of it. Having spent much time watching cycling in his studio, he was drawn to the phrase “full gas”, which is frequently used by cyclists to describe an intense day’s racing. He felt that this was also applicable to the intensity that comes with the sheer amount of work Full Gas contains, and he liked the fact that the title could be misread as referring to all of the cars found in the book.
Full Gas is out now and can be purchased here.
GalleryCharlie Duck: Full Gas (Copyright © Charlie Duck, 2021)
Charlie Duck: Full Gas (Copyright © Charlie Duck, 2021)
About the Author
Daniel joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in February 2019 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. He graduated from Kingston University with a degree in Journalism in 2015. He is also co-founder and editor of SWIM, an annual art and photography publication.