A critical eye on the contradictory extremes of the modern world

Those who knew him best recognised immediately what Sarah Lucas meant when she said “Angus was a lovely man.” Angus was thoughtful and generous, cerebral and witty, charming and good-looking, perceptive and inventive, modest and self-deprecating. He was also mischievous and provocative—in Damien Hirst’s memorable phrase, “he had just the right amount of ‘slightly round the bend’.” Whenever I picture him, he is smiling.

I first met him when he arrived as a student at Goldsmiths. He was very young, highly serious, and absolutely determined to become an artist. Although that was more than 20 years ago, I still recall his early student work with admiration. At Goldsmiths, he formed the intense friendships that would shape his life, work and career. He was a key participant in the “Freeze” exhibition in the summer of 1988, which brought the artists who took part international art world interest and success. From that moment on Angus and his friends never really knew what it was like not to enjoy the pleasures and suffer the pressures of the limelight.

As an artist, Angus cast an amused and critical eye over the confrontation of contradictory extremes that characterise both art and the modern world—the bizarre mix of insight and achievement with banality and pretention. Angus tried to find simple ways of exposing and expressing that complexity. He did this, not from the detached safety of the sidelines, but, like the true artist that he was, from the seductive and often cruel heart of the matter, exposing himself perhaps to more personal danger than any of us realised. All those who knew him well will miss him greatly. n

Goldsmiths College, London

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