Brian Catling (CRF 1999), performance artist and fantasy novelist, has died at age 74. Born in 1948, Catling was a wide-ranging artist who worked in sculpture, film, photography and painting. He was also Emeritus Professor of Fine Art at The Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art. The artist began exhibiting his work in 1975, and in 1986 presented his first solo exhibition at On Touching, Haunting and Marking A Noble Silent Room held at Leifsgade 22, Copenhagen.

His artwork is perhaps best recognized for its fantastical and magical-realist elements, including the recurring image of a cyclops, which first appeared in the 1990s. Asked in 2015 about his fascination with the mythological being, Catling said, ‘It came really from seeing one. In a glass jar. In the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. It hadn’t survived birth or it hadn’t been allowed to survive birth. It had one eye and two pupils. It was devastating. Sad, tragic and disgusting; all those things you’re not supposed to feel at once but do.’

Catling enjoyed a second career as an author, publishing the first of the dark fantasy trilogy The Vorrh in 2012, followed by The Erstwhile (2017) and The Cloven (2018). His 2019 novel Earwig was adapted into a feature film. His final novel Hollow (2021) follows the journey of a group of mercenaries within a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Read more here.

Image: Brian Catling in collaboration with David Tolley, Cyclops, 2013. Courtesy the artists.