Donald Gladstone Rodney (May 18, 1961 – March 4, 1998) was a British artist. He was a leading figure in Britain's BLK Art Group of the 1980s and became recognised as "one of the most innovative and versatile artists of his generation." Rodney's work appropriated images from the mass media, art and popular culture to explore issues of racial identity and racism.
Early life and career
Rodney was born and raised in Birmingham, England. He completed a pre-degree course at Bournville School of Art and went on to complete an honours degree in Fine Art at Trent Polytechnic in Nottingham, graduating in the mid 1980s. There, he met Keith Piper, also from Birmingham. Piper was to influence Rodney's work towards more political themes. The works of Rodney and Piper, alongside Eddie Chambers, Marlene Smith and Claudette Johnson became recognised as a distinct movement within British art, whose attachments were to social and political narratives.
Rodney suffered from sickle-cell anaemia, a debilitating disease that grew steadily worse during his life. This led to an interest in discarded hospital X-rays and other medical themes that began to inform his work. Rodney used X-rays as a metaphor to represent the 'disease' of apartheid and racial discrimination in society.
In 1998, Rodney succumbed to the disease and died on March 4. After his death, Rodney’s work was shown in the prestigious British art show 5. He was also included in the show Give and Take, Works Presented to Museums by the Contemporary Art Society held at the Harris Museum and the Jerwood Gallery.
In 2003 Rodney's papers were donated to the Tate Archive.
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