Zhivago Duncan, born 1980 in Terre Haute Indiana, is an American artist of Syrian and Danish descent whose discipline includes painting, sculpture and installation. He received his BFA from Chelsea College of Art and Design London. Duncan’s work is collected by the Saatchi gallery, the Perez Art Museum Miami, the Me Collection Berlin, the Barjeel Art Foundation Sharjah and various private collections worldwide.


In his painting, silk screen is a stable medium. Duncan utilizes screen printing in a painterly manner; by repeating the print over and over again transforming the figurative image into abstraction he detaches himself from the graphic copying qualities of silk screen. By using the image against itself through repetition it transcends its definition, morphing it into a shell of what it once was. In his abstract color washes he uses a combination of ink and rabbit skin glue on large canvases, these works emulate the sun eaten colors that Duncan associates to the natural environment of the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan where, during periods, he spends time painting.


In his sculptural practice Duncan uses model planes, cars, toy trains neon lights and various materials creating kinetic Apocalyptic dioramas encased in large museum vitrines. The dioramas function on a loop creating constant non-repetitive motion emitting hypnotic forces by transforming industrial vessels into meditative portals. Duncan challenges the values of these industrial objects by beautifying the monotonous repetition of their motion with in the sculpture, reversing the meaning of their influence and nurturing the poetic values of their existence.


Duncan builds large environments some composed of skate park module sculptures extended with canvases and made by remote control vehicles equipped with painting machines. In his earlier work the machines used for painting were the installation themselves, these machines were huge and were loaded with canvases which were painted by a remote control guided by Zhivago. In his more recent work Duncan builds mechanisms, to which he attaches remote control vehicles. These vehicles serve as the catalysts for the larger painted environments, paintings and sculptures. Through these painting machines he allows himself to relinquish control of the brush stroke and physical motion of painting in order to give vision and a new slant of mastered chaos. While the will and intent is there the control is not therefor the result is a fresh stroke of an untrained painter through the mind of a seasoned one. This play in duality is pivotal to Duncan’s work, a tension between having control and renouncing it.