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Dexter Dalwood: Fictional History

Giovanni Bellini's The Assassination of St.Peter Martyr inspires one of Britains' leading contemporary painters. Dexter Dalwood in conversation with John-Paul Stonard.

Dexter Dalwood

Part 1: Death in a wood

Part 2: Cyclical mythologies

Part 3: "That's where the painting is"

Part 4: Unpredictable, fictional space

Part 5: Contemporary history painting

Part 6: Authenticity and impact

Part 7: Measuring success

Reading list

Dave Hickey, Dexter Dalwood: New Paintings, pub. Gagosian Gallery, 01/08/2002 www.amazon.co.uk

Author's Biography

Dalwood, Dexter (b. Bristol, England, 31 August 1960), British painter. Before beginning his career as an artist Dalwood was a member of the punk-rock band The Cortinas (1976-78). He subsequently completed a Foundation Course at St.Martin's School of Art and Design, London (1981-82), a BA Fine Art at the same school (1982-85), and an MA Fine Art at the Royal College of Art, London (1988-90). His paintings during the late 1980s and 90s were figurative, often based on his travels in India. In 1996 he began making paintings from memory, an experimental series that culminated in the first painting that imaginatively reconstructed a fantasy spaces, Bridge of the Enterprise (1998, oil on canvas, 121.9 x 152.4 cm, Saatchi Collection). The paintings that followed reconstructed similarly glamorous spaces, both fictional and factual, such as Elvis Presley's Graceland and the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas. Based on small collages that he began making at the beginning of 1998, they are painted in a self-consciously awkward manner, making art-historical references to artists as diverse as Gustav Klimt and Pieter Jansz Saenredam. These were exhibited, amongst other venues, at the exhibitions Facts & Fictions (Galleria in Arco, Turin, 1998), Die Young Stay Pretty (ICA, London, 1998) and New Neurotic Realism (part II) (Saatchi Gallery, London, 1999). At the end of the 1990s his work began to make more explicit art-historical references, and focused more on political rather than celebrity environments. Still based on fantasised spaces constructed from simple collages, Dalwood draws references between the cult status of art and political movements. Mao Tse-Tung's Study (2000, oil on canvas, 223.5 x 223.5 cm, courtesy Gagosian Gallery, London) suggests a connection between the cult surrounding a painter such as Frank Stella and that of Maoism, by comparing the type of iconic imagery common to both. Brian Jones' Swimming Pool (2000, oil on canvas, 275 x 219 cm, courtesy Gagosian Gallery, London) shows a fantasy projection of the swimming pool in which the rock musician Brian Jones died. By painting a large section in the manner of the abstract expressionist Clifford Still, Dalwood suggests a reading of abstraction expressionism as similarly hubristic and flawed by its own expansive ambitions.

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