Arthur Laidlaw’s experience of drawing and photographing classical sites throughout the Middle East, months before the Arab Spring, profoundly shaped the way that he sees the world.
Each work is characterised by a fundamental mistrust of the objects in the composition. The presence of a person, building, or specific landscape cannot be taken for granted; the subject may be erased at any moment, along with the history to which it is bound.
The images begin as in situ drawings and photographs; Laidlaw then returns to the studio to materially and emotionally deconstruct the grasp that history continues to hold over our present experiences, and future memories. The resulting work is an attempt to develop – rather than to resolve – a story.
Born in London, in 1990, Arthur Laidlaw studied History of Art at the University of Oxford (BA/MA, class of Prof. Gervase Rosser) and Fine Art at City & Guilds of London Art School (MFA, class of Robin Mason, Andrew Grassie).
Laidlaw was awarded the Oxford Art Society Young Artist of the Year by BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz in 2016. He was shortlisted for the Elephant Magazine Art Prize in 2018, and the ArtPiq Painting Prize in 2019.
His sell-out exhibition Razed: Syrian Ruins, raised over £25,000 for the Syrian Civil Defense; it remains the largest donation to The White Helmets by an individual.
Laidlaw has exhibited internationally over the past decade; he lives and works in Berlin.