Selected works by Dexter Dalwood

Dexter Dalwood
Bay of Pigs

2004

Oil on canvas

268 x 348cm

In Bay of Pigs, Dalwood recreates the failed 1961 U.S. attempt to overthrow the Cuban government, a haunting tropical image somewhere between vacation brochure and Apocalypse Now. Along the bottom of the canvas, an upside-down version of Picasso’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe stands in for the foreign shore: while the world is in crisis, Picasso is painting palm trees in Cannes. 19.04.61 is engraved on a nearby rock, stolen from a Picasso painting finished that very day.

Dexter Dalwood
Brian Jones’ Swimming Pool

2000

Oil on canvas

275 x 219 cm
Dexter Dalwood
Sunny Von Bulow

2003

Oil on canvas

150 x 207cm

In his painting of Sunny von Bulow, Dexter Dalwood draws poignant comparison between the New York socialite and Pre-Raphaelite representations of Shakespeare’s Ophelia. Plagued by depression and mental instability, Sunny slipped into an irreversible coma in 1980; her husband, art dealer Claus von Bulow, was initially convicted and later acquitted of attempted poisoning. Here, Dexter Dalwood portrays the heiress as an eternal beauty, trapped in a morbidly poetic slumber. Based on an 1852 painting by John Everett Millais, Dexter Dalwood weaves art-historical reference into contemporary popular conscience, adding gravitas and reverence of legacy to the transient limelight of today’s media culture.

Dexter Dalwood
Kurt Cobain's Greenhouse

2000

Oil on canvas

214 x 258cm

It’s hard to identify this urban-perfect scene as the suicide site of a grunge god; only the idle guitar and empty chair suggest that somebody is absent. Dexter Dalwood imagines his scenes with the up-close-impersonal sterility of Hello! magazine spotlights; everything needed to know about the person is in the paint. Like Magritte’s Empire of Light, Kurt Cobain’s Greenhouse is both day and night; a lot of time has been spent contemplating in this room. Bright-lights big-city success blares in the distance, the boughs in bloom offer unattainable promise on the other side of the glass. While inside there’s only a corroded pipe and pathetic box of posies to signify trampled self-esteem. Dexter Dalwood’s painting is an allegory of the fallacy of heroism.

Dexter Dalwood
Jackie Onassis

2000

Oil on canvas

214 x 244cm

In his painting of Jackie Onassis’ infamous Mediterranean yacht retreat, Dexter Dalwood has captured the time in a single glance: the over-designed black lacquer tables, the hideous Florida chintz sofa, neo-deco lamps and waterbed. On the wall, Andy Warhol’s diamond dust painting Shoes (Magnin) stamps it all with an exact date: 1980. The painting encompasses all that is perfectly fashionable just like Jackie O herself. It’s only the resounding hollowness of this scene that gives way to thoughts of a tragic heroine: surrounded by all the luxuries money can buy, her only real solace comes from a simple sunset, which she can watch for hours and dream away her grief.

Dexter Dalwood
McCarthy's List

2002

Oil on canvas

204 x 279cm

In McCarthy’s List, Dexter Dalwood paints the conservative underbelly of America. Inventing the den of an evangelistic witch-hunter, Dexter Dalwood opts for typical upper-middle-class suburbia, replete with fieldstone bookshelf, Lay-Z-Boy furniture, and catalogue-order globe to monitor the ever-enclosing axis of evil. A portable typewriter sits expectant by his precious amassing volume, being both warmed and threatened by the devil-red fire of communism.

Dexter Dalwood
Gorbachev's Winter Retreat

2000

Oil on canvas

198 x 236cm

Gorbachev’s Winter Retreat is a modest structure, straddled between the split landscape of old and new Russia. Quoting Edvard Munch (for that Eastern European feel), Dexter Dalwood offers the ousted premier a grim prospect of a lonely, uneventful future as just another forgotten historical figure with nothing but memories, banished to a life of rural idyll and inconsequence.

Dexter Dalwood
Camp David

1999

Oil on canvas

198 x 335cm

Envisaging America’s best-kept open secret, Dexter Dalwood constructs his version of Camp David as a truly virtual space. In creating the architecture of the presidential retreat, Dexter Dalwood doesn’t present a unified picture, but rather a series of separate paintings within the painting. The bookshelves and lampshades are rendered as free-floating minimalist forms, while the landscapes viewed through the windows show two unrelated types of geography. Dexter Dalwood paints each element with an economical sense of ‘flat-pack’, alluding to theatre props and backdrops. In representing one of the most hallowed emblems of US national security, Dexter Dalwood devises his own spooky conspiracy theory: the possibility that Camp David might not exist at all.

Dexter Dalwood
Room 100, Chelsea Hotel

1999

Oil on canvas

183 x 213 cm

Room 100 at New York’s Chelsea Hotel is the infamous site of the violent death of Nancy Spungen, allegedly at the hands of her boyfriend Sid Vicious. Dexter Dalwood paints this scene with clinical detachment: the chaotic room is devoid of salacious detail, dehumanised in its simplicity. Dexter Dalwood portrays an unglamorous fantasy of seedy realism as sanitised through media. The composition is riddled with pairs: lamps, cupboard doors and bed frames act as coupled shapes, insinuating an eternal togetherness. The broken bed is symbolic of tragic breakdown. At the foot of the bed is an upturned TV, its image frozen on two black-clad figures: one large and one small, reflective of fragility and ego. On the floor, Dexter Dalwood paints a pool of melting candles, suggestive of drug culture but also the adage that those who shine brightest burn quickest.

Dexter Dalwood
Sharon Tate's House

1998

Oil on canvas

183 x 235cm

Dexter Dalwood paints famous places he’s never seen: Camp David, Che Guevara’s Mountain Hideaway, Kurt Cobain’s Greenhouse – unseen landmarks of a collective conscious. Dexter Dalwood represents Sharon Tate’s House not as the gory aftermath of the infamous Manson murders, but rather as the ’close-up and impersonal’ interior of a Hello! magazine spread. Creating the perfect ambience, Dexter Dalwood gets into the mind of his subjects by recreating their environment in every detail: the swank late 60s furniture, basked in the warm comfort of a Southern Californian sun. It’s only the feminine dressing table in the background that suggests this is the home of a budding star, and the American flag draped as a subversive sofa cover that indicates this is the site of legendary helter skelter.

Dexter Dalwood
The Liberace Museum

1998

Oil on canvas

152 x 183cm

Imagining pictures of famous places, Dexter Dalwood invents believable scenes of celebrities’ private lives. In his painting of the Liberace Museum, Dalwood envisions the pianist’s home-cum-shrine as a palace of camp decadence. Acres of pink carpet, swooping staircases, and gilt decoration confirm the viewer’s expectations of the showbiz icon’s personal domain. Dexter Dalwood often incorporates a subtle humour in his work: here bold masculine pinstripes are rendered in garish fuchsia, and a mumsy petit point cushion adorns a distant chair next to a hideous Bambi statue. The absence of Liberace’s grand aura is referenced to in the reflection-less polished floor beneath the piano; the large glimmering crystal in the foreground is a memento of his lasting charisma.

Dexter Dalwood
The Queen's Bedroom

1998

Oil on canvas

193 x 183cm

Based on Buckingham Palace intruder Michael Fagan’s 1982 courtroom account of the monarch’s boudoir, Dexter Dalwood’s The Queen’s Bedroom is imagined with forensic accuracy. Painted in proud Union Jack colours, Dexter Dalwood offers a grim and humorous view to the inner life of royalty. Curtains drawn against the outside world, he portrays a meagre loneliness: the lovelessness of a single bed, only the portrait of a long dead relative for company. The spartan décor of the room suggests a regimented existence; the tight-fisted frugality of a ma’am too cheap to foot the gas bill is cheekily implied with the addition of an electric heater on the floor.

Dexter Dalwood
Grosvenor Square

2002

Oil on canvas

268 x 347cm

Dexter Dalwood paints London’s swish Grosvenor Square, home to the American embassy, as a comic Armageddon. The sculpture of a dead president stands in ominous glory, a lone caped panto-villain master-minding the elements of world power. Dexter Dalwood pictures this landmark circa 1969: the upside-down trees are taken from a Georg Baselitz painting from this period. Painted during the Iraq war, Dalwood envisions the park as a place of protest, citing the anti-Vietnam demonstrations that took place there. In this epic work Dexter Dalwood captures the enormity of historical resonance: the leaf-strewn grass is weighted with pastoral calmness, giving a grounded continuity of order to the lingering aura of violence.

Dexter Dalwood
The Deluge

2006

Oil on canvas

274 x 457 cm

Articles

DEXTER DALWOOD: A BRUSH WITH DEATH
Tuesday, 26th October, by Peter York, The Independent

From Kurt Cobain's greenhouse to Sharon Tate's living room, Dexter Dalwood's paintings are haunted by mortality. Peter York delights in the morbid brilliance of this year's favourite for the Turner Prize

Can Dexter Dalwood, figurative painter, possibly win this year's Turner Prize? Absolutely everything's against him. He is, for instance, the bookie's favourite, with William Hill quoting odds of 2/1. According to one of those curious experts that W. Hill pitches up to explain the odds for all manner of events, Dalwood is "well known and easy on the eye".
You could contest the first, he's not exactly Damien or Tracey yet, but the second is undoubtedly true. Whereas his competition – The Otolith Group, Angela de la Cruz and Susan Philipsz – are what could be described, in the bookie's own familiar language of the turf, as rather hard going. De la Cruz does poignantly deconstructed canvases, The Otolith Group do massive film and video installations showing footage of, amongst other things, the legacy of ancient Greece or austere London in the 1960s. And Susan Philipsz with a "z" does aural art, voice tracks of herself singing sad songs medium-well, designed to create the atmospherics of place – under a river bridge, for instance.
So what hope has Dexter Dalwood, with his 1980s US-soap sounding name and his large decorative figurative canvassy canvasses suited to houses as well as large galleries and bridges? One critic has already described his work as "glib". As Dalwood himself says: "I haven't had a generous press in this country. Post-Pop painting is not quite the true religion here."
The basic idea of a Dexter Dalwood painting is so consistent, so apparently easy to grasp, that spoofs start running through your head moments after you've first seen one. A Dalwood – the kind of thing he's been working on since around 1999 and the kind of painting shown in the Turner exhibition – shows an imagined place, most often a domestic interior. It'll be the house or setting for a real person – always famous and usually dead – and often for a memorable event. So, for instance, the Hollywood room where Sharon Tate and others were murdered by the Manson family in 1969. Or Kurt Cobain's greenhouse. They have a spoofy echo of classical history painting of the "X after the battle of Y" kind, but the scenes are drawn from recent media memories rather than martial mythology and the characters are mostly celebrities rather than great leaders. And they're usually not there.
You, the viewer, do the rest. Just add blood and imagine the corpse (Dalwoods frequently feature death sites). So in Sharon Tate's ominously still and sunlit room you're wondering where her beautiful butchered body might be – it's hidden in front of the well-observed sofa with its back to us in front of the free-form fireplace. This is historically accurate because Dalwood has read Vincent Bugliosi's account of the Manson murders, Helter Skelter, most carefully. (And Henry Wallis's Death of Chatterton was a teenage favourite of his).

Read the entire article here
Source: independent.co.uk


ARTIST DEXTER DALWOOD ON HOW HE PAINTS
Sunday 20 September, 2009, by Dale Berning, The Guardian

Being alone in a room making a mess is what first attracted me to painting. I think you have to love painting to study it and spend so much time doing it and looking at it. It's a bit like Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino ... they're obsessive about watching and making films. I am obsessive about looking at and making paintings.
The viewer must use their imagination to complete my images, so I create images that trigger memories, or play upon images they may already have in mind about certain events. I like the idea of painting something that you may know a little about - the date, the place, the person - but that you don't necessarily have a specific image for.
For example, I'm currently working on a series of works for a forthcoming show entitled Endless Night. This series is basically a fictionalised display of homicides and suicides. They are carefully constructed scenes - a mixture of direct and obscure references. I'm interested in how art history gets separated from real history, and how you can put that back into time. For example, I didn't realise Manet was painting when Lincoln was shot. So there's a painting called Death of Lincoln that references Manet. Another painting is called Death of David Kelly - a very simple image, based on him at the moment of his death.

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Source: guardian.co.uk


DEXTER DALWOOD
January 2010, by David Coggins, Art In America

Dexter Dalwood’s paintings reside at the intersection of art history and the pop-culture imagination. That sounds straightforward enough until you’re confronted with a painting that references both Ed Ruscha and O.J. Simpson. It’s a jarring sight. White Bronco (2001) posits a view—O.J.’s view—from the front seat of the notorious SUV, in whose rearview mirror one sees the Hollywood sign before a smoldering sunset à la Ruscha.
Over a career of nearly two decades, the English artist, born in 1960 in Bristol, has often painted imaginary versions of historically significant figures’ domestic interiors, from Mao’s study to Bill Gates’s bedroom. He also paints sites of tragedy, for instance the road where the writer W.G. Sebald died in a 2001 car accident (The Crash, 2008), or pivotal locations from literary works, such as the swimming pool where the body of Jay Gatsby is found (Gatsby, 2009).
What makes Dalwood’s paintings so arresting, however, is the freedom of his stylistic borrowings. Style, in fact, is one of his principal themes. His work is rich with citations, whether from countrymen Francis Bacon and David Hockney or from continental masters like Matisse and Manet. When Dalwood quotes Bacon in creating a background, the history of painting snaps into the foreground. At first this obvious copying might strike the viewer as too obvious, as though a musician had sampled a little too much of a Beatles song. But it also places the quoted material firmly in the past, reminding us of how inflexibly styles are associated with specific historical moments. Looking back over the “history paintings” he began making a dozen years ago—and Dalwood does think of them in the category of history painting—it becomes clear that the artist is reminding us that the style which vividly evokes an era will also inevitably underscore our distance from it.
Dalwood lays out his scenes somewhat in the manner of a stage set or diorama. Because the paintings are large and rarely include full figures—occasionally we come across a cropped pair of legs suggesting some unseen menace—we feel invited into these spaces, where we can compare the way Dalwood has envisioned things with the way we might have done so ourselves. He welcomes the friction between our imagining of a place or event and his own.
And there is friction—of many kinds. Take Diana Vreeland (2003), which is closely based on Matisse’s Red Studio (1911), but in which that room is furnished with additional drapes and overstuffed furniture and a grand vase full of tulips. After the initial shock at the audacious reconfiguring of Matisse’s masterwork, we warm to this ode to visual pleasure, the lush setting worthy of the iconic fashion editor who reigned decades after Matisse painted his own realm. The world of painting is a fundamentally physical one, accessible to all, the artist asserts, and he has no qualms about rearranging what came before him. Dalwood insists that our relationship with historical painting be immediate and visceral.
Though it refers to previous painters, Dalwood’s work remains very much his own. His citations shift and yet the end product is instantly recognizable, not unlike that of a cinematic auteur. When Dalwood quotes Matisse or Bacon, we feel an instant familiarity with the resulting images. That makes his elisions, insertions and changes in scale all the more jarring. He calms us with recognition and then shifts the ground beneath us. In the end it is defamiliarization that makes Dalwood’s work so distinctive.
A resident of London, the artist has had his chief success with shows in that city, appearing in “Die Young, Stay Pretty” at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (1998) and “Neurotic Realism: Part Two” at the Saatchi Gallery (1999), followed by a solo show at Gagosian (2000). He was also featured in “The Triumph of Painting” at the Saatchi Gallery in 2005. When we met, he was preparing for a midcareer survey at Tate St. Ives, in Cornwall.
In his third U.S. solo exhibition, “Endless Night,” recently at Gagosian in Beverly Hills, Dalwood showed 13 new paintings, all representations of the place where a historical figure or well-known fictional character died. After walking through the show, we talked in a spare, white room at the back of the gallery that featured Sustaining Light (2007), an installation by James Turrell that emitted a purple glow.

Read the entire article here
Source: artinamericamagazine.com


DEXTER DALWOOD
Friday August 20, 2010, by Dale Berning, BURNT

Dexter Dalwood’s cultural roots lie in the experimentation of ‘60s rock and early punk. He left school at 16 to pursue a career in music, playing with a number of bands including Bristol-based punks The Cortinas. Dalwood discovered painting in the late ‘70s: ‘a light came on’, he says, ‘and I became really fascinated’. He went about studying the great masters with characteristic thoroughness. In London, at both Central St Martins and the Royal College of Art he fought against the prevalent teaching style, then still infused with the remnants of abstract expressionism and the ideal of ‘true’ painting. Instead, the pluralism of the ‘70s, of Andy Warhol's Factory, William S Burroughs' literary cut-ups, David Bowie’s lyrics and David Salle’s pastiches were an inspiration. From his punk beginnings, Dalwood kept the defiant and fiercely independent attitude as well as an experimental, DIY approach to creativity. Following in the footsteps of pop artists such as James Rosenquist and Richard Hamilton, ‘sampling’ became integral to his practice.
Catalyst
Since 1998, Dalwood’s works have primarily depicted figureless spaces: interiors linked to the tragic passing of celebrities (Kurt Cobain’s Greenhouse, 2000; Hendrix’s Last Basement, 2001), as well as symbolic places (Bay of Pigs, 2004). He often starts with a single catalyst - a date, a name – from there drawing a personal line through the world’s political and cultural history. In The Brighton Bomb (2006), on the 1984 IRA bomb at Brighton, Dalwood borrowed Jean-Michel Basquiat’s aesthetic and colours which, in his memory, were particular to that period: the acidic pinks, yellows and blues of the painting thus refer to the ubiquitous ‘80s shell suit. Dalwood builds up his works gradually through visual and conceptual association. ‘I want to create images which make you think about other images’, he says. ‘The painting works as either a foil against your imagination or places a new, stubborn image there.’
Looking around the Tate St Ives show is a singular history lesson. Painters are explicitly quoted – Willem De Kooning, Henri Matisse, Clyfford Still, Cy Twombly amongst others. This borrowing is never irreverent, nor is it an ironic end in itself. Rather, it speaks of Dalwood’s intense admiration for and thorough knowledge of the painters who came before him. ‘To walk into an empty gallery of Nicolas Poussin paintings or Ed Ruscha paintings still gives me a thrill equal to untrodden snow’, he says.
Collages
In Death of David Kelly (2008), a tortuous tree trunk cuts obliquely across a flat deep blue with a bulbous moon overhead and ripped earth underfoot. The tree is Lucas Cranach's, and the ground Edvard Munch's. The sky is exactly as it was on the day of David Kelly's passing. Kelly was a biological warfare expert involved in the British government’s enquiry into weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; he committed suicide on July 17 2003, in the woods on Harrowdown Hill. His death came as a profound shock to the British public. The compositional reduction of this painting is altogether more potent because Dalwood relates it specifically to this man’s story. In a few pictorial gestures, the artist questions the political circumstances of Kelly’s death and places it within an artistic context. The visual minimalism that characterises the work stands in stark contrast with Burroughs in Tangiers (2005), a vibrant composition that combines collaged newspaper and cards with painterly quotations, including part of a Robert Rauschenberg. This is the third work Dalwood has made about a writer who has particular importance for the artist. ‘Burroughs is complicated for me’, he says. ‘I’ve been with him for a long time. With him there isn’t one single incident.’
Pulsating with the sheer urgency of the present, Dalwood’s work constantly questions what an image of ‘now’ would look like, and what painting can be today, at the beginning of the 21st century. ‘I always thought that if I could be the person who assembled stuff and painted in any way’, he says, ‘the parameters of painting would keep moving outwards.’

Read the entire article here
Source: burnt-art.blogspot.com


DEXTER DALWOOD
By Alun Rowlands | originally published in 'This much is certain' by the Royal College of Art | edited by Claire Bishop | London | 2004 | ISBN 1874175624

1974. A hotel room in Philadelphia. A mesmeric character is seated on a pastel chaise longue. He pours over some handwritten lyrics. His pale, chiselled cheekbones exude extreme elegance. A sculpted shirt with pointed collars enhances his actions as he takes a pair of scissors to the text. Snipping randomly, the lyrics disintegrate. They fall into a heap of language. Plucking arbitrary fragments from the pile, our writer begins over. We watch as a new song is written. Words, phrases, syntax and meter are freed to forge new associations.

The documentary we are watching reveals David Bowie moving restlessly from one creative approach and persona to another. 'Cracked Actor' traces Bowie in another stage of development. Ziggy has fled. Aladdin Sane is dead. This is the Thin White Duke. At times Bowie is confident in his artistic vision, at other times he talks in solemn riddles. Bowie writes his lyrics using Burroughs-inspired 'cut-ups'. The camera lets us commune with a moment of construction. It gives us a backstage pass. Hotel room. Green room. Sigma Sound Studio. We witness before the event. Before the stage show.

Looking at Dexter Dalwood's collages we are privy to the scene where intrinsic decisions are made and planned. Before painting. They are modest sites where elusive locations are constructed. Intimate connections are fired from printed matter and art historical reproductions. They combine, as if, to produce stills from a twentieth century historical movie. We know the plot. We know the cast. Gorbachev. Brian Jones. Michael Jackson. Sharon Tate. Do we know the set and location? Kinda. Sorta. Maybe. Dalwood scouts these locations from our collective imagination. Fuelled from biography and the speculation of popular mythology, he details spaces set for potential drama. But, unlike Bowie in 'Cracked Actor', our main protagonists are absent. They have stepped out. They are off set. We are left to project our imagination into the assemblage of metonymic accoutrements. Props drawn from a myriad of sources collide in a fastidious montage. The resulting collages initiate the details of lodestone images, like single frames from our movie. Dalwood is seated splicing and cutting from the reel-to-reel of history. The collages he creates are single image cells prior to their projection onto the big screen of painting.

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