Dexter Dalwood: London Paintings at the Simon Lee Gallery
English artist and Turner Prize nominee Dexter Dalwood this week unveiled his latest exhibition at the Simon Lee Gallery in London. Born in Bristol in 1960, Dalwood began his creative career in 70s punk band The Cortinas before switching gears to become one of the most interesting visual artists and history painters around today.
Dalwood’s work has always stood out, not only due to his striking style but because his work is so often steeped in history and “quotations” from other artists. His latest exhibition, London Paintings, two years in the making and inspired by his own experience of living in the city, is no exception.
Upon stepping into the gallery you would be forgiven for thinking you’d entered a sort of alternate reality – the images Dalwood has created are all so familiar, yet altogether strange. The old is layered upon and in some pieces indistinguishable from the new, reflecting quite brilliantly the nature of London itself, steeped in memory, somewhat haunted and strikingly intimate. The exhibition is made up of pieces that speak of cultural and political history, and though they are far more personal than much of Dalwood’s earlier work, each piece still leaves plenty of room for the viewer to find their own London and draw their own interpretations.
Many of the pieces are masterful collages or reimaginings of the work of older artists: Old Thames 2014 for instance is a reworking of Whistler’s paintings, while Double Portrait (Camden Town) 201, speaks of Rimbaud and Verlaine with shades of Warhol. The Thames Below Waterloo 2014 blends the bright colours of Hockney with the more classically subdued work of Monet, creating an image of the river that traverses time.
Though the paintings are visually stunning it has to be said that for those less familiar with London’s cultural heritage many of the references may easily be missed. Indeed, Dalwood’s references are from such a broad range of topics that even those who know the history may overlook a few. That’s not to say that they cannot be enjoyed by the more casual viewer but without the rich history that inspired these pieces the meaning, one imagines, would be somewhat lacking.
London Paintings is at the Simon Lee Gallery until 24th January 2015, for further information visit here.