John Dunbar (born Mexico City, 1943) is a British artist and co-founder of Indica, the avant-garde London gallery of the mid -1960s. Known for his many friendships and connections within the art and music counter-culture, Dunbar has also consistently maintained an eclectic practice encompassing drawing and collage (particularly in notebook context); sculpture and assemblage; photography and film.
In 1965, as a 22 year-old Cambridge graduate, Dunbar set up and curated Indica which immediately became a meeting point for artists, musicians, poets and filmmakers. After Indica folded in late 1967, Dunbar was exhibitions officer for the British Council from 1969-71, revitalizing their programme by promoting a new generation of artists such as Barry Flanagan, Colin Self, Bruce McLean and Clive Barker. He says that it was his “first and last job”: since then he has lived between London and Scotland, producing work in both locations, and “managing to avoid writing my autobiography”.
As an exponent of the counterculture, Dunbar participated in the seminar LSD and its Visual Impact at a symposium honouring LSD inventor Albert Hofmann in 2006. A group of Dunbar’s early ‘acid’ drawings featured in his 2014 retrospective exhibition, some colourful and intricately psychedelic, others are ink notations of thoughts during “very acidy afternoons” in the late 1960s.
Throughout the Indica period, and in the years afterwards, Dunbar has maintained the practice of drawing or writing in his notebooks almost every day. In his studio, there are shelves with volumes lined up in date order – documents of a stream of consciousness recording the past 50 years. The intimate nature and scale of the notebooks has provided him with a series of portable, virtual studios over decades of a somewhat peripatetic life.
Biographical note excerpt, England & Co. Gallery.
All works © John Dunbar 2020