Skip to content

Donald Urquhart

The End

January 5 – February 12, 2008 LA

Found newspaper and magazines displayed on gallery wall
Black and white poster reading 'spread 'em like beckham'
black and white poster reading 'anal'
black and white poster reading 'Like i was like really like you know like totally lost for words'
Black and white poster of man in tank top reading 'meat kills'
black and white poster of man interacting with elephant
black and white poster of Hollywood sign with starry sky
Black and white poster of flapper, reading 'goodbye you fool'
Black and white poster, reading 'the end'
Black and white poster of dog, reading 'Bye!'
Betty Boop drawing, reading 'My Head's too big for the lil noose - it's just no use!'
Betty Boop sketch, reading 'Book-I-Cide!'

Donald Urquhart
The End
January 5–February 12, 2008
Opening reception: Saturday, January 5th, 6-9pm


About "THE END". The title of my show explains that this is about endings, it is (as usual) a response to my many friends dying and about letting go of them; saying goodbye, calling it a day... Five friends died this summer - one was a murder, and while I swore after "Another Graveyard" (2005, ICA, London and CCA Glasgow) that I was going to avoid any further exploration of grief and mourning I have found that I cannot avoid it so may as well go deeper into it. My mother stopped speaking to me two Easters ago. This has been hard to bear, and is strangely like she has died and I have grieved - even though she is very much alive. This ending was the inspiration behind my show "52 GIRLS" at Maureen Paley in September, but I broadened it to be a more general saying goodbye to the past - be it saying farewell to a bye gone era, or using a farewell to the past as a portal to the past. We still have our memories even after something has ended or is gone, and in this sense the past is always there and so never completely or resolutely ends.


Ink drawings. My ink drawings often recall hand painted captions for silent films or lobby cards in their slightly wonky but painstakingly neat style. And the show is in Hollywood, so... I don't think these images need a lot of explanation. The swastika of flowers is inspired by the animation in the dream sequence in Hitchcock's VERTIGO, but transferred to represent an unimagined scene from Disney's FANTASIA. History could have been different! The dog in "Bye!" is Petey from The Little Rascals. Who remembers him or why he always wore that circle of make-up around his/her eye? Goodbye Petey, and goodbye to the alien ephemera of your unfathomable era.

These faces are mainly based on photographs of men dressed as women - mostly actors. I spent many years getting done up in drag, and would often make a sketch of how I wanted to look, who I wanted to look like. Here I have drawn what I think the "girls" think they look like. Just to keep you guessing I will not disclose which are real girls.

Red cigarette banner Since my days of decorating the Beautiful Bend nightclub, and making flyers for it, I have hoarded drawerfulls of vintage ephemera - never knowing when something might come in handy. I find it really hard to let go of things but that story about the man who was killed by his book collection when it toppled on him, that made me think. My little graveyard of the past could become my own grave. A recent family incident (ask me - it's a LONG story) has inspired this collage piece which is a shrine to the past and a question as to whether anything truly ends. Faded bygones, old news cuttings, record sleeves, yellowed pages, facsimiles of old periodicals; an assemblage of disparate elements amassed by myself over the last twenty years or so. I have deliberately selected mainly items with an overall yellow color, making a jaded past which somehow focuses on London in 1969 and 1976 (with assorted other randomly selected times), with a lot of other eras and history missed out. With these relics I intend to build a smallish shrine, gluing cuttings on pieces of cardboard. There will be some writing over it, and drawing on the wall behind. I don't know if candles or fairy lights? The piece is as useless as most totems in that it can't cater for everybody. We each have our own paststo finish. We have our own pasts to deal with. It is no more my past than yours - although some of it is very personal to me. Some things I didn't really want to part with, but felt they added something and as this is about letting go of the past I thought I should do some real letting go. I promise it won’t be too miserable or maudlin.

-Donald Urquhart


Donald Urquhart’s work has most recently be featured in solo exhibits at Maureen Paley, London; Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco; Herald Street, London; and Millers Terrace, London. Group shows include: 'Beck's Futures', ICA, London (2005); 'Other People's Projects: Herald Street', White Columns (2005); 'The Black Album', Maureen Paley/Interim Art, London (2004). Urquhart's book 'A Present from The Zoo' was published in 2006 by Schnittraum. Urquhart lives and works in London, UK.