Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hermie Hero: Dexter Dalwood


Thrashing around London's Art scene during the 80’s, Dexter Dalwood painted a body of spatial landscapes that have me weak in the bathing suit area. The proceeding stolen images expose Dalwood’s vivid colour palette in which these dynaaamic spaces emerge, making me believe that he’s a little bit lusty for Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud (and would totally make art babies with Echo Eggebrecht). His paintings encompass a documentary feel even though they act as archival records of non-existent spaces, turning what we think we know into nothing but a stale fart.  His celebrity references and expressionistic style create the old fashion equation between pigment and corporeality.

Dalwood (a graduate of both Royal Academy and St. Martins) paints in a manner that many of us hermies aspire to; predominately flat, hints of tonal modeling and sporadic “multimedia” muscle spasms that parade around on his canvases. These spasms, or collages, are seen as the engines to all of his works and are very indicative of his educational background at St. Martins.  His visual union between wonky perspectival studies and static creativity remind me of pre-perspective, just-say-no-to-proper-proportions Italian paintings. In this compositional activity, synchronicities become eminent and stand in as Dalwood's preferred pictorial tense. Much like the time in which these canvases were painted, Dalwood’s accurate representations, vivid colours and opposing perspectives are almost synonymous for the existential extremes of the 80’s; disaster and promise, evil and banality.  Successfully for Dalwood, these devices garnered the attention of some of the largest galleries in the world, and also the affection of the w(b)itches through his uncanny ability to paint cultural memory without nostalgia.

These thought-provoking compositions can be attached to the lineage of abstract expressionism, pop art and more recently, “bad painting.” Although, his works undertake the idea of the lived-in space, (space with the hints of human intervention), the absence of figural representations in his work is deliberate and sooo sassy! Dalwood’s reasoning for this decision is not because he’s can’t paint the human figure (*cough* me *cough*), but because he feels that it permits the viewer to identify themselves as the protagonist, thus, Dalwood forces the viewer to reminisce about how we connect to paintings in the past and how they construct something that isn’t being depicted in the painting…. there is more than what greets the eye, duh.

Dalwood’s paintings ignite the imagination that seeps throughout all of us.  And it is through the use of “bad painting” he forces the viewer to re-appraise the intelligence of what we are looking at and what we are thinking about according to the cultural context. Well, moving on, there are few things we can learn from Dexter Dalwood: he tells us to always brainstorm past the original idea so that we can push beyond the obvious, something that isn’t illustrative. He also tells us to “Go Deep,” and he’s not talking cock in vag / ass deep, he’s talking about the importance of getting completely submerged into your art practice, your visual vocabulary and open yourself up to chance, (something easier said in summer).  He also suggests that we should never be bombastic, instead, lets nudge our audience into a new realm of visual discourse.  Also, mix it up! Don’t stagnate in one medium and try something different, like pee standing up (hey, ladies!) or take a zumba class. In everything you do just let the art spill into the streets.

                                          1998 The Queen's Bedroom oil on canvas 193 x 183cm

                                      1999 Robert Mapplethorpe's First Loft oil on canvas 213 x 244cm

                                             1999 Solzhenitsyn’s Reading Room oil on canvas 91 x 99cm

                                            2000 Gorbachev's Winter Retreat oil on canvas 198 x 236cm

                                               2000 Jackie Onassis oil on canvas 214 x 244cm

                                            2000 Kurt Cobain's Greenhouse oil on canvas 214 x258cm

                                              2001 Nietzsche's Chalet oil on canvas 125 x 115cm

                                                    2002 McCarthy's List oil on canvas 201 x 279cm

                                                            2003 Diana Vreeland, oil on canvas

                                                  2003 Sunny Von Bulow oil on canvas 105 x 207cm

                                                             2003 Versailles in the Jungle

                                             1998 Sharon Tate's House oil on canvas 183 x 235cm

                                               1998 The Liberace Museum oil on canvas 152 x 183cm

Kaleidoscope Magazine, Volume 8, fall 2010. 
David Anfam - Martin Herbert - Cherry Smyth 


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