January 19, 2010

Dexter Dalwood, Tate St Yves Spring Season

23 January – 3 May 2010

British artist Dexter Dalwood has been building a strong reputation over the last decade in the UK, Europe and the States. This selected survey, featuring major paintings and collages made over the last twelve years, will provide an important and timely opportunity to review his work in both a national and international context. 

Typically, Dexter Dalwood's works depict imagined and constructed interiors or landscapes, usually devoid of figures, that act as memorials or descriptions of various historic people, places or moments. They draw on an idea of 'History Painting' as a genre and, like their illustrious antecedents, the quotations, allusions and references can be elusive and highly codified at first. But, like the grand eighteenth and nineteenth century works they allude to, the canvases have an immediacy, and power as paintings first and foremost. They range in subject from major political events like The Death of David Kelly 2008 or The Birth of the UN 2003, to imagined places that are marked by some traumatic history or event, or which have simply become lodged in our collective cultural unconscious; these include Sharon Tate's House 1998, Neverland 1999, Greenham Common 2008 and Camp David 1999. 

Other works are presented as ‘portraits' of famous or infamous writers, artists and political figures like William Burroughs 2005, Diana Vreeland 2003, Truman Capote 2004 and Hunter S Thompson 2009. These people populate our shared cultural memory, and for one reason or another seem to continue to exert a fascination or influence through both their work and their lives. Once again, these 'portraits' are produced by Dalwood through the constructed 'scenes' or 'sets' that he creates. 

Almost all of Dexter Dalwood's paintings initially start out as small collages - compositions he assembles by literally cutting and pasting from the pages of magazines and art history. In the subsequent large-scale canvases the abrupt disjunctures and sharp, clinical edges, are faithfully reproduced, preserving the slightly unnerving, almost jarring quality at a sometimes exhilarating and monumental scale. The way that Dexter Dalwood constructs his pictures, referencing and juxtaposing both image and content, is highly sophisticated. He weaves together personal, social and political histories with art history, popular culture and biography to produce provocative and complex new constellations of meaning. Dexter Dalwood's post-modern, post-pop 'history paintings' display a smart and seductive lightness of touch; an accessibility and wit offered through the shared experience of the collective political and cultural histories they invoke.
A full colour monographic publication will accompany the exhibition.

The exhibition will tour to FRAC Champagne – Ardenne and CAC Malaga through 2010.

ALSO ON VIEW AT TATE ST YVES From Saturday 23 January through Monday 3 May 2010

The Tate Collection – 1971
Dexter Dalwood has made a personal selection of work from the Tate Collection to accompany his exhibition. Taking the year 1971 as his starting point, he has brought together an international collection of works, all made that year, by artists of very different generations, backgrounds and practices. In this way he offers a kind of cross section through time, and constructs a snapshot of a personally relevant period.
In 1971 Sam Peckinpah's controversial film Straw Dogs, shot entirely in Cornwall, was released; an event that made a distinct and profound impression on Dexter Dalwood who was 11 years old at the time and living in Penzance. That same year the Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers album was produced with a sleeve designed by Andy Warhol. Concurrently Oscar Kokoshka, born in the previous century in Vienna, painted Time Gentleman Please 1971, as Nixon continued to send troops to Vietnam. Meanwhile Irish artist Rita Donagh was making a painting titled Three weeks in May 1970 – relating to both a group action carried out by her students at Reading University and the shooting dead of anti-Vietnam protestors at Kent State University in Ohio. In Cornwall, Roger Hilton and Bryan Wynter were developing a new painterly abstraction as American abstract artist Philip Guston was returning to figuration. Barbara Hepworth was making her last works and Naum Gabo, now 81 and living in the States, continued to produce some of his best work. This eclectic display also includes, among others, the work of Pablo Picasso, Howard Hodgkin, Arnulf Rainer, Margaret Harrison and Ewa Partum.

This display of stone carvings brings together three significant modernist sculptors working in St Ives from 1939. Whilst Barbara Hepworth's abstract works were at the forefront of international modernism, the tradition of carving remained consistently at the heart of her practice. It was both an intellectual and sensory process which combined her love of natural materials with her humanist political ideals. Following his association with Barbara Hepworth from the 1930s, Naum Gabo, who was best known for his radical constructions in plastic and metal, began an unusual series of 'kinetic' stone carvings. Living in St Ives during the war, elements of natural forms seemed more apparent in his work. Denis Mitchell worked as Hepworth's assistant for 10 years from 1949. Unconventionally, he often worked into solid rough casts of bronze which he carved, chased and polished like stone. His reliefs and sculptures in slate and stone also considered formal relationships between balance, line, space and form.

Tate St Ives - Opening hours: March–October daily 10.00–17.20, last admission 17.00; November–February, Tuesday–Sunday 10.00–16.20, last admission 16.00. Admission: £5.65; £3.20 concessions; free to 18s and under and Members

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