The Passions of Richard Dadd Revisited
For artist Richard Dadd, the passions were not merely emotions, preoccupations or hobbies. They were the instincts that drove behaviour, kept in check only by social expectations and the internal moderators of human reason and conscience.
Dadd’s series of sketches on the passions, completed while a secure hospital patient in the 1850s, provides comment on the human condition that is insightful, empathetic and cryptic, all at the same time.
Bethlem Museum of the Mind’s collections are rich in works by artists who, in common with Dadd but not necessarily inspired by him, have represented the passions that motivate us. In this exhibition, each of the Bethlem passion pictures has been paired with a work which opens up another perspective on Dadd’s chosen subjects.
To accompany Dadd's Sketch to Illustrate the Passions: Insignificance, we are showcasing an installation by artist Marie Brenneis called The Rules are in Your Head.
In this installation, Brenneis brings together an army of gnomes and a giant pink fish with exaggerated yellow lips. Her deliberate misplacement of the gnomes creates a rupture through its disorderliness.
This piece asks why we are uncomfortable with non-order, why do we follow and how do social norms affect the mind? The work encourages us to be autonomous, use our free will and to think for ourselves.
At the heart of her work is humour, social norms and beauty; she is best known for her sculptural aesthetic interventions of deliberate misplacements.