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Group show: The Triumph of Painting - Part 3 (over)

4 November 2005 until 5 February 2006
  Dexter Dalwood
Dexter Dalwood
Jackie Onassis
Jackie Onassis, Oil on canvas, 214 x 244cm
2000 The Saatchi Gallery

The Saatchi Gallery
Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road
London SW3 4SQ
United Kingdom (city map)

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tel +44 (0)20 - 7811 3070

Born in Bristol, England 1960. Currently lives and works in London.

Text written by Patricia Ellis

Dexter Dalwood makes paintings of famous places he's never seen. Offering plausible suggestions of those iconic haunts lingering invisibly in collective consciousness, Dalwood pictures his own documentation of history.

Drawing from his encyclopaedic knowledge of 20 th century conspiracy theory, Dalwood constructs his scenes with forensic accuracy.

McCarthy's living room, Kurt Cobain's greenhouse, or Jackie O's yacht are depicted with uncanny believability; not as real occupied places, but our media constructed fantasies of them. Devoid of any bric-a-brac signs of human life, Dalwood pictures these lairs of rumour with Hello magazine cleanliness; show homes of glamour, dark theme-park panoramas of gossip tourism.

Dalwood pieces together each scene with a carefully considered invention, taking into account time, location, and political circumstance to devise believable tableaux which reflect the intimate details of public persona and event. Period furniture and interior décor, environmental temperament, and style of paint application all give clues to his tragic-comic interpretation of contemporary myth.

In developing his ideas for paintings, Dalwood creates miniature collages, virtual interiors cut and pasted from select showpieces lifted from luxury design and travel magazines. Translated into paint, Dalwood retains their awkward collaged appearance, and further pushes their displacement through appropriated painting style. A landscape is borrowed from Munch and a set of curtains bear a strange resemblance to Richter. Through multi-layering of signifiers, Dalwood creates a fact-based fiction, entwining of the convolution of pop culture with a reverence to art history.

Dalwood's use of visual symbolism adds a profound complexity to his accursed legends. Drawing heavily from psychology, world politics, vox-pop trivia, and appropriation of art history, Dalwood weaves together seemingly random elements into his own glossary of modern infamy.

Through painting, he masters the strategies of propaganda dissemination and the superfluous nature of information currency in a mass media age. Working in the traditional genre of historical painting, Dalwood presents the makings of our sociological zeitgeist as an elevated hierarchy of lasting cultural significance.

Born in 1969 in Belfonte, Pennsylvania. Currently lives and works in New York.

Text written by Patricia Ellis

Inka Essenhigh's paintings redefine pop as the epitome of aesthetic hierarchy. Her ultra-slick surfaces operate as virtual fields, where estranged narratives play out in cross-wired systems of reference and recognition. Influenced by 19th century caricatures, oriental art, Arabic miniatures, and contemporary comics, Essenhigh's paintings are both exotic and operatic: envisioning futuristic mythologies frozen in dynamic moments of suspended animation.

Central to Essenhigh's work is the concept of epic action; her paintings picture apocalyptic tableaux of invented legend and suburban phenomena. Essenhigh perceives her work as more drawings' than paintings; her spontaneous and intimate process lingers as disquiet tension in the polished finish of her canvases. By utilising the language of cartoon illustration, she captures the essence of drama and movement through exaggerated gestures. Her monochrome backgrounds function as empty stages, their wide-open space magnifies the conceptual scale of her paintings; lines act as cues, indicating past and future action, as well as delineating and abstracting form. Essenhigh's formalism conveys a commodified ideal of flux: static energy becomes a device of fetishistic fixation.

Essenhigh's work flirts between abstraction and representation; her suggestive forms morph composure of design with quiescent sexual intrigue. Essenhigh's paintings exude an energy from within: the liquid properties of her media convey an inherent, voyeuristic sensuality. Plastic tones and organic shapes are applied in thin, skin-like layers to create the effect of animation cells, seductive in their self-contained intricacy and precious quality. Her more recent paintings, rendered in oil paint, suggest the detached perfection of 3D animation or virtual reality. The cool gloss effect of her surfaces creates a sense of hyper-artificiality: Her paintings offer a baroque beauty that is majestically antiseptic.

Essenhigh's paintings overtly celebrate their superficiality, embracing humour, violence, and chaos, within their vapid, magnetic allure. Essenhigh conceives her paintings as being quintessentially American; a brand of futurism that's instantly attractive and sublimely infinite.

Born in Dresden, Germany in 1967. Lives and works in Dresden and Berlin.

Text written by Patricia Ellis

Eberhard Havekost's work explores the problems of painting in the media age. Painted from personal photos and video footage, his imagery is rendered to highlight the limits of its own mechanically reproduced distortion. Speed is represented with the blurry lines of film, colour and light are unnatural and detached, and grim buildings and urban banalities are given a clinical rebirth. Reduced to near-abstraction, Havekost's subjects depict not themselves, but the ever-changing expectations of representation.

Intrinsic to Havekost's work is the concept of modernity. Post-war housing, trains and aeroplanes are used as symbols of industrial power, referencing both systems of 20 th century social politics and a utopian vision. Cropped to odd angles and presented in extreme close-up, he uses the devices and formats of photography to draw parallels between the personal and generic, to falsify intimacy from public experience.

Seeing painting as a method of improving the real, Havekost often 'remixes' his original photographs with computer editing software before painting them to create more visually 'accurate' compositions.

Havekost portrays the world through the standardised deception of advertising; hues are subtly altered and forms are imperceptibly stretched or skewed. By eradicating imperfections with harsh artificial light he creates critical distance. Scenes that are intrinsically familiar are made to seem manufactured and strange. Nostalgic images of collective memory resonate with the newness of expertly packaged products.

In the modern age of simulation, his paintings expose the possibility for authentic beauty to exist.

Born in Amsterdam, Holland in 1963. Currently lives in and works in London.

Text written by Patricia Ellis

Born in the Netherlands, Michael Raedecker studied fashion design and art in Amsterdam before moving to London in 1996. Winner of the John Moore's Prize in 1999 and nominated for the Turner Prize in 2000, Raedecker's work is uniquely recognisable through his trademark combination of painting with embroidery and appliquéd elements. Raedecker paints timeless subjects: landscapes, portraits, interiors and still lifes. Addressing the preoccupations of traditional Dutch painting, such as composition and light, his work offer a quiet classicism that is hauntingly contemporary.

Raedecker's paintings revel in the architecture of illusion. Each canvas explicitly details its unconventional method of making. Poured puddles of paint, tangled masses of yarn and intricately stitched details exist as self-contained gestures, devices with their own layered logic, conjoining to create a surreal and dream-like sense of space.

Raedecker draws reference from modern concepts of image construction, such as the motion and lighting effects of film, the stark colours of interior design and the special effects of digital imaging. Fabricating the cinematic through a sophisticated sense of kitsch, these elements are often reinterpreted through the unlikely intimacy of craft materials and techniques; ins and outs reveals layers of thread stretched over a collaged interior, which radiate with the inner glow of a TV screen.

Through his labour intensive process, Raedecker transcribes the epic to the personal. His often unassuming scenes convey the intangible grandeur of the sublime. Themes of solitude, tranquility and emotional isolation run throughout Raedecker's work. His paintings of remote dream homes are often suggestive of unsettling narratives, presenting an eerie dislocation of idealised luxury and a sense of discomfort, which reflect on man's tenuous relationship with nature and with himself.

Born in Livonia, Michigan in 1976. Currently lives and works in New York

Text written by Patricia Ellis

For young New York artist Dana Schutz, painting is a necessity of her imagination. Working within strict self-imposed codes of representation, Schutz develops elaborate fantasy worlds, fictions which can only exist in paint.

Her practice is born of a highly complex notion of the 'artist' as author, inventor, magician, scientist and divine power. Working as both slavish manipulator and somewhat cruel god, Schutz creates and rules over a netherworld of obscure invention and functionless objects, populated by a cast of characters that are bizarre, grotesque and delightful. Schutz offers no plausible explanation; she merely revels in the possibility of their fabrication.

Schutz's work is the art of storytelling. Her paintings boast fables of exotic culture and ritual. Not literal narratives, rather dark suggestions of foreign existence, sophisticated and barbarian in equal measure.

It's the interconnected totality of Schutz's vision that is most convincing. Albinos, transformers and a tribe of people who eat themselves are recorded with the dedication of an anthropologist, a freak show rendered with genuine love. Landscapes and still lifes, curiosities in their own right, serve as documentary evidence of their strange ways: relics of savage ceremonies or beliefs.

The real subject, however, is control. Schutz places herself as the painterly equivalent to Conrad's Kurtz, she both conquers and surrenders to her own adventure.

Infused with a primal sense of urgency, Schutz's wildly expressive painting style and garish palette give her fantastic illusions to physicality. She authenticates their making with a well-versed art history ranging from Gauguin to Guston. Described in Art Forum as 'our finest contemporary symbolist' Schutz makes paintings for the best reason of all; the simple urge to articulate an idea that takes no other form.

Meghan Dailey Artforum April 2004

Born in Rheine in 1973. Lives and works in Leipzig.

Text written by Patricia Ellis

Matthias Weischer's paintings use architecture as a central theme to explore the possibilities of spatial illusion. His elaborate depictions of interiors are pure invention based in a quiet subversion of logic. Obsessive patterning, incongruous perspective, and embellishment of off- kilter positioning are used to create psychological tension. Through the banality of design, Weischer presents a state of contemporary consciousness where model living is reflected as both desire and anxiety.

Weischer's rich surfaces contrast geometric fields of hard-edged abstraction with highly rendered decorative details to create an eerie play between flatness and 3D. Starting with a blueprint of an empty room, Weischer builds his imagined locations layer upon layer, each added element further pushing the boundaries of perceived space. Dizzying repetitive motifs and Escher-like visual riddles nimbly allude to a sense of the uncanny. Suburban normality is infiltrated by an almost unnoticeable surrealism; floors become tabletops, flat-pack furniture is impossibly two-dimensional, and shadows are conspicuous either by their absence, or their absurd shapes and angles. Monotony is presented as a perpetual labyrinth of contemplative wonder.

Each canvas exposes the making of its improbable construction. Following underlying grids reminiscent of virtual reality, Weischer rigidly maps out the structure of fantasy. Never populated, his interiors give no hint of narrative; their décor is unplaceable in fashion timeline, there are no clues to their inhabitants' personalities. Instead, they operate as blank showrooms for the viewer's projection, blurring the boundaries between public and private, individual and communal experience.

For Weischer, representation becomes a precarious consequence of abstraction; the gravity of each scene constantly flits in and out of focus in subliminal optical illusion. Imagining each location as an installation, Weischer uses painting to realise its image. Veering in style from tidy formalism to expressionistic gesture, he heightens the element of mystery. For Weischer, space is a conceptual enigma; painting becomes the realm of its capricious realisation.

Related Publications:

The Triumph of Painting
will define how painting has not only survived into the new century in the face of the barrage of imagery from other media, but it will demonstrate how painting has absorbed that imagery, reshaped it in its own central domain, and touched us profoundly.

£35.00 - Published by Random House

Visitors to the gallery can purchase the book at the special price of £30.00

First in a series of supplementary volumes featuring many key works by 6 important artists'. Essay by Alison Gingeras, biographies by Patricia Ellis.

£16.50 - Published and distributed by Koenig Books London

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