Zhivago Duncan’s sculptures and paintings are cornucopias of color and energy. The Danish/Syrian artist, his art and its attending apocalyptic narrative are big, smart and intense. He slots neatly into the roster of his CFA, his Berlin gallery, which also represents kindred lords-of-chaos: Jonathan Messe, Chris Offili, Tal R and Julian Schnabel. Here, we visit his ungentrified former-GDR painting studio to discuss the next stage in the compelling story of Dick Flash, the last human survivor of the oncoming apocalypse, and the protagonist of his art.
Ana Finel Honigman: What is an “apocalypse disco blender”?
Zhivago Duncan: “Apocalypse disco blender” is the backstage name for one of the upcoming pieces that I am working on. At the moment, I am going further into the kinetic apocalyptic wasteland dioramas and one of them is basically a “disco blender.”
AFH: What is the story to your apocalypse? What happened to the world that we now know and why?
ZD: Well, it’s a mystery really. It’s like that nightmare of waking up and you’re the only person left on earth. Making matters worse, Dick Flash suffers from amnesia.
AFH: Are you fearful of an apocalypse? What are your concerns for the future?
ZD: No, I am not fearful of an apocalypse. Actually, I think it might be really entertaining. It will shake things up a little. I am actually quite bored with the mundane routine of everyday life. Throw a little apocalypse in the equation. Oh yeah!
AFH: Back to mundane realities – do you have a clear goal when starting a sculpture, or are you primarily experimenting with the boundaries between your imagination and reality’s constraints?
ZD: I generally do have a clear idea for the more complex pieces although there are always alterations and evolutions along the way. Sometimes I end up detrimentally changing the pieces. I hang on to many “things” in the studio and they become potential pieces. These objects then accumulate until I know what to do with them. Luckily, I am naturally aware of the laws of physics and most of the time, I know the limits between my imagination and reality’s constraints.
AFH: What are those limits?
ZD: Usually its money!
AFH: How have your aesthetic, goals and creative ambitions changed since you developed a high-end audience and collector base?
ZD: No, the ambition, aesthetic and goals have always been heading in the same direction. Collectors help by believing, showing and buying into the work. The money enables me to follow up on my goals and ambitions. But it’s fundamentally about getting the work done and doing it as closely to the ways in my head, without compromise, as possible. It’s about whatever it takes, as long as there are no compromises. As long as its still mine.