In ‘City Noir – Vanishing Points’, Duffin draws inspiration from the dramatic tones and moods of Film Noir and Italian Renaissance master Caravaggio for a series of evocative oil paintings and etchings of London.
On show will be new works featuring landmarks including Borough Market, King’s Cross St Pancras, Bar Italia, Park Royal Underground and the Hoover building.
Citing the latter as a favourite, he says: “It has long lingered at the edges of my Art Deco perception of the city. I see it as a lost ocean liner landlocked in the suburbs, a beautiful piece of the 20th century shivering in the London dusk.”
Of Bar Italia, he explains: “I wanted to depict it as a doorway in the London night, a refuge and a timeless place that has a lot of stories and history for many Londoners.”
And of Borough Market Duffin adds: “Another site that has been in my life for decades. I wanted to show how close it is to the river and the city, a bolt-hole just far enough away from the corporate world to still feel like a place of freedom and imagination near to The Globe, where Shakespeare and his renegades once performed for Londoners.”
With echoes of Edward Hopper and L.S. Lowry in his work, Duffin is a masterful storyteller of life and the human condition in the modern metropolitan city.
Fascinated by cinematography, film stills, edits and camera angles since childhood, Duffin recalls a love for black and white films on his parent’s television set and the growing appeal of Film Noir: “It seemed to take all of the elements of image-making and stretch them further. Camera angles were wider, lighting was starker, and soft and hard focus were extreme - it was also contemporary and showed an exaggerated version of the actual world outside.”
Using experimental, often giddy, vantage points Duffin’s pieces see his figures subsumed by the energy and scale of urban life. Yet at the same time their small stories are writ large, as if for the silver screen.
A former naval architect, Duffin is a graduate of Goldsmiths and Central St Martins, a peer of the YBAs and a student of Michael Craig-Martin. A member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers since 1991, Duffin’s works are held in a many public and private collections including the Ashmolean Museum, the Museum of London and the University of the Arts.