Alexander McQueen Duncan was born in 1973 and grew up in rural Oxfordshire England. Being the son of a sculptor and a painter presented Duncan with little alternative other than studying fine art.
After his degree course at Central Saint Martins School of Art, his own work focused on portraiture, figure painting and landscapes progressing from small scale watercolors to large scale canvases and site-specific commissions. In combination with his personal work, he became a tutor in painting and drawing at the Heatherley School of Fine Art in Chelsea where he is currently teaching.
In 2007, Duncan was awarded the Royal Society of British Artists Rome Scholarship where he worked from direct observation of Rome’s urban and rural landscape with emphasis of the changing light and atmosphere over the ancient Forum. The Roman Forum paintings made at daybreak demonstrate light penetrating shadow and the warmth of color flooding over cold stone.
After an extensive period of travel across Italy, a major solo exhibition followed in Milan which was opened by the Assessor of Culture in Milan. This exhibition entitled ‘Transience and Permanence’ explored the fusion between objective visual experience gathered over both brief and protracted periods of time spent in researching and painting in the open countryside of Italy and in Florence, Venice, Siena, Rome and Calabria.
His painting and teaching has taken him to many regions which enable him to explore and paint the distinctive qualities found in the unique landscapes, atmosphere and light of Provence, Aspen, Patagonia among others.
Duncan’s work engages with abstract and expressionist elements drawn from both direct observation and memorized sensations; a visual dialogue between the representational and contemplative observation. Transparency is one of the keys to his paintings forming a subtext or underpainting alluding to images which are sensed before they are seen. This understanding of translucency came early on in Duncan’s life working alongside his mother’s watercolors where the emphasis explored the properties of staining, bleeding and luminosity. These same principles and techniques are translated into oil painting on canvas and board where the painting strives to generate its own light source, here the atmosphere, mystery and mood dominates representational topography. He attempts to apprehend the moment as with a glimpse or a glance which embeds the image. The spontaneity of pastel, charcoal and monochromatic washes set the freshness and visual dynamic of the subject.
As with the Roman Forum paintings, Duncan’s work expresses the transient point in time where the balance between shades of night and day, what is seen and perceived is shared. These experiences set up a journey through painting, not only about light and color but what is revealed and concealed, resolved and dissolved, in this way, Duncan’s work uses a multi-layered surface allowing the first statements to remain within the matrix of the completed work as essential visual reference points.
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