In November, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in Dublin will open a major retrospective of Derek Jarman’s daring art titled “PROTEST!.” The exposition of 80 artworks created by British film director and artist for the first time will show all his creative manifestations.
Jarman became famous primarily as an experimental director and LGBT rights activist. Yet, he was also a passionate gardener. Artist created the garden of stones and plants near his mansion on Cape Dungeness in the wilderness on the Kent coast near the nuclear power station. “We don’t know Derek Jarman the painter, although painting was his main practice,” says Sean Kissane, curator of Dublin’s IMMA. In this major retrospective of Derek Jarman’s daring art, his paintings will be exhibited together with his experimental works shot on 8-millimeter Super 8 film; full-length movies of the artist will be demonstrated at the Irish Film Institute.
It is believed that during his career, Jarman created about 400 controversial artworks. “After the self-portraits, Jarman turns to the neo-Romantics, the Two Roberts tandem (artists Colquhoun and MacBryde), and creates works largely inspired by them,” says Kissane. “Then he pays attention to the assemblages in the style of Jasper Jones, and then gradually moves to the creation of floor-based sculptures.” Now, with the participation of James Mackay, producer of Jarman’s films, and screenwriter Tony Peake, working with the creative heritage of the artist, it is planned to create a full archive, reflecting various aspects of his work.
The major retrospective of Derek Jarman’s daring art was made possible by the end of protracted litigation for the right to possess the artist’s paintings. The dispute began in 2015, when Keith Collins, a longtime companion of Jarman and beneficiary of his estate, filed a lawsuit in the high court of London against the art gallery dealer Richard Salmon. Collins demanded that all the Jarman’s art pieces, which were in storage or exhibited in other galleries, must be returned. After the sudden death of Collins last summer, Salmon remained the only person who represented the work of Jarman during the artist’s lifetime. According to Salmon, in his will, Jarman stipulated that the dealer should remain in that role “in perpetuity, as he and I had previously agreed.” The artist passed away in February 1994.
However, Salmon’s lawyer points out that in early 2015, Collins asked his client “to transfer the rights to manage the artist’s heritage to the Wilkinson Gallery. This the art dealer refused to perform.” After the closure of Wilkinson in 2017, Amanda Wilkinson opened a new gallery, taking Derek Jarman’s estate with her.
The lawsuit ended in June 2018, shortly before Collins’ death; details of the case were not made public. All the Jarman’s artworks went to Wilkinson, including a series of 30 paintings, for which, according to Salmon, it is required to pay insurance compensation. It was Wilkinson who organized the first exhibition of Jarman’s art pieces – the exposition of his “black paintings” in 2013.
In addition to works provided by Wilkinson, intricate paintings and collages for a major retrospective of Derek Jarman’s daring art in Dublin came from various private and museum collections of the UK, Ireland and other countries.