The Freud Museum

Exhibition Archive

2 October 2008 - 23 November 2008

Oliver Clegg

A Knight's Move

The title comes from Freud’s earliest reference to chess in Studies on Hysteria (1893) where he relates the complex, zigzagging, move of the Knight to the twists and turns of the human mind in psychoanalysis. Central to Oliver Clegg’s project is his exquisite fabrication of an extraordinary chess set. This incorporates exact replicas of Freud’s famous desk with its anthropomorphic chair and his favourite antiquities as the chess pieces. The exhibition also comprises a series of specially conceived paintings, etchings and tapestries distributed throughout the house and includes an installation in the psychoanalyst’s famous study. A Knight’s Move explores the wider theme of play with paintings of strangely disarrayed children’s toys on old drawing boards and etchings that include images of Tarok cards and references to the poetry of Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), both favourites of Freud. Clegg’s haunting images and installations evoke shadowy childhood fantasies and daydreams that provoke a volatile dichotomy between the real and imagined.

Oliver Clegg (b.1980), is a multifaceted artist, capable of producing brilliantly conceived and meticulously executed works in a broad range of expressive disciplines. He often incorporates and reworks found objects with a history to them, like heavily inscribed and paint-splattered ex-art school drawing boards or pages from old diaries and books. His paintings with their rich surfaces and haunting subject matter have a dark brooding tension that evoke ambiguous narratives, transient dreams and shadowy childhood memories. Although he tends to excel at using traditional materials and techniques his work retains a powerful conceptual edge and the press have hailed him as a ‘rising star’ of the London contemporary art scene.

This exhibition has been produced in association with RS&A and Clegg’s stunning chess set is a new addition to their renowned series by artists including Maurizio Cattelan, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Damien Hirst, Paul McCarthy and Rachel Whiteread. A Knight’s Move is also the latest in the critically acclaimed ongoing series of Freud Museum exhibitions curated by James Putnam that have included projects by Sophie Calle, Sarah Lucas, Ellen Gallagher and Tim Noble & Sue Webster.

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