Nigel Rolfe

Performance Art

Born in the Isle of Wight in 1950, Nigel Rolfe lives and works in Dublin, Ireland. Nigel Rolfe’s work encompasses many media that include sound and audio production, video and photography. His primary reputation for the past forty years is working live, making performances throughout Europe, and the former Eastern Block, both North and South America’s and Asia in China, Japan and South Korea.

He has had over fifty one person and numerous group exhibitions from 1974 to the present. These have included one person exhibitions in 18 countries and in world art capitals repeatedly since 1978.

He has shown in Museums, National Art Centers, Public and Dealer Galleries and Alternative Spaces and others and been presented at many Art Fairs in the USA, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, UK and France

He is represented by Green On Red Gallery in Dublin, Galerie Polaris in Paris and Jayne Baum in New York.

He has exhibited in Biennales in Dublin in 1980, Paris in 1980, Kwangju in 1997, Sao Paulo in 1998, Bussan in 2008 and Venice in 2013.

There have been two major museum retrospectives of his work:

His retrospective Archive was shown at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1994

Nigel Rolfe Videos 1983 – 1996 was exhibited as an installed retrospective at The Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1996.

His work is in Public and Private Collections. He has been represented in numerous art fairs He has shown twice in the Pompidou Centre in Paris and his book work Towers is in the Collection of the Tate Gallery London and the Museum Of Modern Art in New York.

He is elected to Aosdana in Ireland. He has represented Ireland numerous times in cultural exchange exhibits and tours including China in National Museum Beijing and the USA in MOCA Los Angeles

and the ICA Philadelphia.In the 1980s and 90s he worked with the pan European group Black Market International including Documenta in Kassel

He has made live works and performances in all continents.

“This response may be observed in Nigel Rolfe’s performance art which in the late seventies incorporated aspects of ritual. By the mid 1980s the work had shifted into a more located representation of the relationship between England as colonial oppressor and Ireland as politically and culturally oppressed.”

Easter Lily
Easter Lily

“An image which expresses something of that spirit is The Easter Lily (above) by Englishborn artist Nigel Rolfe. The image of this flower, a symbol of the Rising with its connotations of death and resurrection, had been appropriated by Sinn Féin and sold in flag form every year to raise funds. Rolfe’s time exposure, sets out to reappropriate the image both historically and culturally. Photographed over six hours on Easter Friday 1994, the changing light sweeping over the white lily creates its own colour effects. For Rolfe the flower, no longer a pure white, symbolises a sense of spiritual loss; the concept of freedom, at the heart of the Easter Rising, having become tainted with the violence of the present troubles, a violence often evoked in the name of ‘1916’. And yet at the same time it is also perceived by him as an eloquent memorial to the men and women who had fought in the Rising. Perhaps this is the way forward for artists wanting to represent the Rising—creating images which not longer make the dogmatic statements of yesteryear but rather use their art as a vehicle for constantly revising the event in the manner which historians are constantly doing. The imagery of 1916 was not inconsiderable in the construction of a heroic canon. As Rolfe has proved it still has a role to play, albeit a more reflective and thoughtful one.”

extracts from many articles and writing on Nigel Rolfes many works relating to the “Troubles”