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Nigel Rolfe, b.1950

Blood of the Beast1990

‘Blood of the Beast’ is a triptych focusing on the subject of conflict and history in the north of Ireland, a subject that Rolfe has returned to on many occasions in his work. A series of symbolic actions and hand signs are presented in this triptych. In the first image of this sequence of hand and object photos, the raised hand signifies the red hand of Ulster, dripping with blood. The middle panel presents a hand which is slightly obscured by the skin of a drum; a lambeg or a bodhrán. The hand is playing music but at first glance appears to wield a gun.

In the final panel, a white lily, a symbol of peace, is being crushed. The imagery of the flower is important in Rolfe’s work, representing life and death, consolation and sympathy. Here, the fact that the hand is grasping the flower tightly may represent life being suppressed by the hand of man.

MediumCibachrome photographs
Dimensions150 x 100 cm (each)
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Purchase, 1991
Item NumberIMMA.33
Not on view
Image Caption
Nigel Rolfe, Blood of the Beast, 1990, Cibachrome photographs, 150 x 100 cm (each), Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase, 1991

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About the Artist

Nigel Rolfe b.1950

Born in the Isle of Wight, Nigel Rolfe lives and works in Ireland. In the late 1970s, he attained a prominent position as a performance artist. Rolfe’s work also encompasses installation, drawing, photography, video and audio media, and examines the influence of history on the individual and society. Rolfe has exhibited extensively, including a retrospective exhibition of his 'Archive' at IMMA in 1994 and retrospective 'Nigel Rolfe Vidéos 1983-1996' at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1996. His video works have been exhibited in the Kwangju,1997 and Sao Paulo 1998 Biennales. He has taught at the Royal College of Art, London; Chelsea School of Art and Design, London, and the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. He is an elected member of Aosdána.
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