by Ian Howard
Date painted: 1998
Oil on board, 136.4 x 175.6 cm
Collection: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
The left panel reproduces Paolo Uccello’s ‘Perspective Study of a Chalice’, c.1450, which is in the collection of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The incorporation of this image highlights Ian Howard’s interest in science and the work of early Renaissance artists. Many of his paintings make references to iconic Renaissance imagery. The title of the Diploma Work ‘Symmetry’ possibly alludes to the perfect symmetry and precision of Uccello’s chalice. There are a number of alchemical images incorporated into the painting. Flanking the perspectival drawing of the chalice are what appear to be two glass jars with various esoteric transfer printed images that have possibly been copied from alchemical textbooks.
The right hand panel reproduces in part Vittore Carpaccio’s painting ‘Saint George and the Dragon’, dated 1504–1507, in the collection of Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, Venice. The image of Carpaccio’s dragon is a recurring motif in many of Ian Howard’s paintings and prints. Ian Howard has also distilled some of the architectural images from the original painting into his Diploma Work. Ian Howard’s work often plays upon oppositions and in this case George and the Dragon represents the opposition of good and evil.
“Symmetry, of the reliquary, the shrine, the altarpiece, is ironized, put into quotes. Objects cease to be stage properties and become emblems. Emblems of what? Above all emblems of emblems. An infinite and unpredictable series of historical and future meanings, hermetic and paranoid, interpretations in which nothing exists by chance”.
Heretical Diagrams; Ian Howard: a publication of 80 pages and 20 colour plates with essays by Alan Woods, which places the print series in the context of the artist’s other work; Jane Lee, whose comprehensive text unravels the iconography and charts the sources of the imagery in the wider history of ideas; and Arthur Watson, who describes the technical aspects of the work.
Published by Peacock Printmakers, Aberdeen 1996 ISBN 0 952 3608 2 9