Sam Dargan contemporary painter ROKEBY Sam Dargan Sam Dargan    
Sam Dargan, The Day the Earth Turned Flat, outskirts of St. Petersburg, 22nd January 1905: A Diversionary Tactic, Oil on Canvas, 2011-2012  
Launch evening Wednesday 11 July 18.00 - 20.30

ROKEBY presents a new body of work by Sam Dargan whose deeply layered paintings combine ambitiously rendered landscapes with historical narrative.

In recent years Dargan has produced a series of grand paintings that allude to a ‘romantic’ ideal of landscape. These paintings, to be seen for the first time, incorporate specific historical events that are re-imagined by the artist. However, more often than not these important political moments are relegated to the distant background of the painting or go completely unseen, referenced only in the title of the work.

Dargan has often returned to the end of the nineteenth century and turn of the twentieth century in European history in his work. This is the case in the new series of paintings in which important political episodes of the period, including the Paris Commune and first Russian Revolution are referenced. Imagery is sourced, in part, from newspapers and contemporary accounts of the events as well as from the work of Realist Russian landscape painters such as Ivan Shishkin and Arkhip Kuindzhi.
The artist plays deliberately and ironically with the heavy symbolism of the Romantic period as well as with the painterly skills required. The landscapes are some of Dargan's largest paintings to date, however ambitious in their execution they still retaining a dark humour and broadly skeptical outlook which was evident in earlier work. The transcendental vistas set the stage for the thinking of Russian Collectivist Anarchists such as Peter Kropotkin and Mikhail Bakunin whose ideas suggested spiritual enlightenment was achievable through Socialist political change. It is under light infused skies that Dargan “…attempts to memorialise these events, as well as offer a chance to escape the fatigue of didacticism”.

In 2010 Dargan was included in the South London Gallery’s exhibition Nothing is Forever, with a wall drawing, A Brief and Idealistic Account of the Paris Commune of 1871. This is his first exhibition at the gallery in four years. The exhibition runs from 11.07 till the closing ceremony of The London Olympics on 12.08.2012.

Sam Dargan graduated from The Royal College of Art in 2002, he lives and works in London.

Click to read Artist of the Week by Skye Sherwin in the Guardian