Dexter Dalwood

"Typically, 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 range in subject from major political events to places marked by some traumatic history or incident, or which have simply become lodged n our collective cultural unconscious...  More recent works have drawn on an idea of history painting, further developing his broad and eclectic incorporation of quotations and references.

Almost all of 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 books. In the subsequent canvases, the abrupt disjunctures and clinical edges are faithfully reproduced, preserving the slightly unnerving, almost jarring quality on a sometimes exhilarating and monumental scale."

(Extracts from) A conversation with Dexter Dalwood by Martin Clark and Florence Derieux

Interviewers:  ...And in terms of the way that the spaces are constructed, are hey entirely imagined?...

Dalwood: In the early works I would often try and find written passages, so for the Sharon Tate painting, for example, I read Helter Skelter (1974), the book about the Manson Family murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. Bugliosi was the district attorney working on the Tate case and there is a great description in there of the moment the police arrived and walked into the living room. They saw the couch with the stars and stripes draped over it, but at first nothing appeared to have been disturbed. It was only after the police officers went round to the front of the couch that they found the bodies. With the paintings from the late 1990s and early 2000s I was looking for descriptions of interiors from biographies which would be a starting point for the collages. Later on I became more interested in taking a person or an event as a starting point in real time and then thinking about the art that was being made in the equivalent period.

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Sharon Tate's House

"I'm compelled to make something new by taking something that I find interesting, cutting it up and putting it back together again."

I: What kind of position do the finished collages occupy for you within your practice? What is their status once the painting has been made?

D: They're a kind of blue print, an energy source. I can and do go back to them, refer to them, so they are important for me. But I'm not so interested in collages as a central practice in my work... the idea of showing the collages - in particular showing a collage next to its painting - doesn't interest me; it can only really become a kind of, 'spot the difference' exercise. The collage is really the engine for the painting to be produced. The process of literally tearing stuff up and making those juxtapositions, that's more important to me than splashing paint around on a canvas.

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Kurt Cobain's Greenhouse

download.php?file=644898&embedded=1&textbox=644296White Bronco

I: How do you begin to think about your subjects - what you are going to make a painting about, or what you are not going to make a painting about?

D: I used to write a list of spaces that came into my head. Sometimes they would get made, sometimes they wouldn't, but more recently, doing the history-based paintings, I was thinking more specifically about particular events that happened in my lifetime that had somehow affected me. So many are quite recent, but almost forgotten stories, things that have dipped out of the news... Often I had a relationship with the event, but I couldn't think of an image that represented it.

"The more essential things for me in a work is the evocation of something rather than the naming of it."

"History is a construction, a fiction, and I am constructing histories from a necessarily subjective view, which is no more or less real than any of the other attempts to describe that time or that event."

- From 'Dexter Dalwood' by Tate Publishing

Neo Rauch

German artist Neo Rauch has been described as one of the most acclaimed and influential painters of his generation. Considered part of the New Leipzig School, Rauch’s work is influenced by his Communist East Germany origins, and is reminiscent of the works by fellow German artists Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, and Georg Baselitz. His paintings are often large in scale, and feature robust figures painted in garish colors. While Rauch himself hesitates to classify his paintings as Surrealist, he acknowledges the influence of dreams and imagination, and thinks of his work as usually a balance between various extremes, including the real and the surreal. The scenes and images evoke a Social Realist sensibility, but are tinged with an unsettling ambiguity, due to the uncanny sense that they are simultaneously familiar and strange.

- www.artnet.com

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Neo Rauch is one of the leading painters of his generation. He was born in Leipzig in 1960, a biographical fact ofsome importance. In his early works he often referred to the former DDR (German Democratic Republic) and its downfall. Not just via his employment of a drab colour palette, but also through depictions of empty factories, sections of the Wall, and border checkpoints, which were often combined with the visual idiom of the utopian posters of the 1950s. 

Gradually, Rauch’s sources became more diverse and he began to allow his imagination free rein, which resulted in baroque compositions that evoke a surrealistic dream world. His paintings became bigger too: veritable tableaux, teeming with colourful characters, in which Biedermeier figures and DDR soldiers are to be seen side by side. Rauch makes use of a variety of narrative threads, often allegorical in nature, which are combined in anachronistic ways. 

"Rauch makes use of a whole lot of sources. Comic strips were very important for him. In East Germany there was only one comic strip, the Digedags, which enjoy real cult status. It was a major source of inspiration for Rauch. But there were also the early US comic strips of the 1940s and 1950s, mainly in black and white. Rauch often uses text balloons. For the most part, they are empty. But sometimes he writes the title of the work in them. He is always looking for different layers to construct his paintings. He is not interested in painting reality. He wants to depict an artificial world. The combination of different sources and pictorial strategies almost offers you a glimpse inside his brain. Dreams are very important too. Rauch is a devotee of surrealist painting. He once said that, for him, dreaming is another way of painting. You never know what is reality and what is imagination." - Harald Kunde (Exhibition Curator)

Article/ Interview by Sam Steverlynck - www.agendamagazine.be

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"I always like to compare my work to a game of chess—fundamentally it is all about placing figures and features, something that has consequences. The one determines the other. Everything takes place on the surface: colouration, composition, figuration must in themselves be plausible. A certain legibility must be guaranteed, otherwise it’s nonsense." - Rauch 

- Interview by Rita Pokorny - www.theartnewspaper.com

Altered Spaces Project - Artist Research

Katharina Grosse

German artist Katharina Grosse is known for the vibrant palette and exuberant gestures of her large-scale canvases and raucous installations which merge painting, sculpture, and architecture. Wielding a spray gun instead of a brush, Grosse often paints directly on the walls, floors, or facades of her exhibition sites, altering the logic and scale of architecture itself. In an effort to liberate her works from the Euclidian space of wall and floor, Grosse also incorporates into her multidimensional paintings a variety of unexpected objects, including beds, clothes, balloons, shaped canvases, and soil. Joining these incongruous elements in a continuous flow of color, Grosse opens up a new path for painting while rearranging conventions, hierarchy, and our very habits of seeing.

- www.massmoca.org

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Over the past decade, she has developed a unique working method and a singular approach to painting that has taken the medium far beyond its traditional domain. Grosse typically designs intricate but ramshackle constructions using mounds of dirt, found objects and fabricated abstract shapes in wood, Styrofoam or plastic. Once the tableau is in place, she dons protective gear that resembles a hazmat suit and wields an industrial spray gun. She moves through the environment—usually on foot, but sometimes on scaffolding or suspended from a crane—covering almost everything in her path with brilliant, saturated color. Occasionally, she coats the gallery’s furniture, walls, windows and ceiling, incorporating the architecture into the art.

Grosse’s rather novel practice has been compared to graffiti and street art. A large part of her practice is performative, albeit without much of an audience. Since she uses a compressor to keep the paint moving, she must act quickly and deliberately to complete the work. Unlike the Action Painters or Expressionists, with their convulsive brushwork and gestures, Grosse never comes into direct contact with the surfaces. Her physical if not psychological detachment seems related to Conceptual art. However, her technique involves a machismo stance, with aggression modified by a kind of

- www.artinamericamagazine.com

David Schnell

German artist David Schnell usually employs elements of landscape in his paintings. Indeed, first-time viewers might be under the impression that they are looking at landscape paintings, but in reality they are witnessing Schnell's obsessive treatment of space - something he frequently intensifies by painting in large formats that seem to engulf the viewer. Equally striking is Schnell's compelling use of linear perspective and the vanishing point to create pictorial order. However, this order is often counteracted by the artist's almost subliminal desire for action. These conflicting elements of order and explosion give the paintings an extraordinary energy and dynamism that never leave the viewer's eye or mind at rest. The landscape in Schnell's works provides a framework against which he explores his thoughts, ideas and artistic concerns.

- www.parasol-unit.org

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" I started to study in Leipzig in 1995 at the HGB. In the first two years the studies were very traditional, we learned about drawing, perspective, putting the figure in space, etc. After the first two years I found it difficult to move past these traditional things and find a way to make contemporary paintings.

I started to paint landscapes with comic characters running through them. I was interested in landscape painting and wanted to combine it with something that was closer to my background. Mixing art history with skateboarding and BMX riding and music. And over time the landscape paintings themselves became so strange – the colors were very strange and almost abstract – and I realized I didn’t need the comic characters. So I started doing just landscape from there."

"I work on one painting, until I don’t know what to do, and then I’ll take another painting and work on it. Or I’ll walk around and work on something that strikes me. I don’t actually paint all the time; I’m the kind of artist that has to think a lot about what I’m doing. Putting color on the canvas is not the main thing for me, I think a lot about perspective. And a lot of looking through books and waiting."

"After I finish an exhibition or a body of paintings I always have these thoughts about what to do next…and I have these little things that help me. For example, I’ll start with colors I don’t understand, or; using a kind of perspective that I have no relationship with also helps. I’m able to realize when I’m repeating myself, and then I get bored with myself and I destroy what I’m working on. It’s a good moment to have, it helps me move forward."

"I was more interested in coming to Leipzig to study printmaking, and at first was more interested in etching and woodcut than painting. But then I found a way to paint. In the early paintings you could see a lot of graphic and drawn elements that I left. If you know it, you can see I’m very interested in printing techniques. Perhaps it’s still a little bit this way. I do mainly aquatints, and often a lot of accidents happen that lead to interesting things."

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Aquatint Etching

(Extracts from) Interview with Schnell by Jonathan Beer - www.art-rated.com

Toba Khedoori

Australian artist Toba Khedoori’s works depict objects and everyday environments divorced from any background. Whether drawing and painting onto thin sheets of paper and stapling these directly onto the wall, or using canvas as physical support, her delicately shaded, often large-scale compositions are poised between ephemerality and monumentality. Doors and windows, chairs and stairs, fences and bricks, train compartments and fireplaces appear at once familiar and unrecognizable, and their “neither-here-nor-there” presence seems to become a space for meditation.

- www.davidzwirner.com

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Khedoori's 'canvas' consists of large sheets of unframed paper, slightly overlapping and stapled directly to the wall. These may reach up to three metres in height and span as much as eight metres. There is no human presence but, like a stage set for an impending drama, the possibility of action is always there.

Khedoori begins each work with preliminary sketches made from photographs or models. She starts the painting on the floor, coating each sheet of paper in wax. As she moves about the space, particles of dust, hairs and other detritus settle on the coated paper, embedding physical evidence of space and time within the painting's surface. The sheets of paper are then stapled to the wall and the image outlined in delicate black ink, then painted in pale oils. Once a mark is made, it remains visible even if altered, creating visual layers in which, as in the drawing process, all traces of the artist's gestures are incorporated into the finished work.

- www.whitechapelgallery.org

Justin Mortimer

"The end of the party' seems a good place to start when exploring the recent work of English painter Justin Mortimer. The viewer is greeted with large scale paintings featuring party balloons in a variety of lurid shades. However, far from feeling like celebration sites, these dark works are the antithesis of light entertainment; they are heavily foreboding. The balloons initially mask the nature of the places where they hang. Closer inspection reveals interiors that resemble arcane hospital rooms or perhaps somewhere more sinister such as a clandestine cell in a military detention centre or a secret bunker... I'ts undenably disturbing and we might wonder at what could have happened. A myriad of possibilities occur.

It goes against human nature to disturb social 'codes'. Parties are fun, wars are bad, death and decay should be delayed as long as possible and then mourned, not welcomed, and certainly not celebrated. 

-Parts of essay by Jane Neal

(Extracts from) In conversation with Justin Mortimer by Tom Hunt

Tom Hunt: Let's start with how you begin your paintings?

Justin Mortimer: I have a database in my studio. It's my computer, my bookshelf and what's in my head. I have a bank of scanned images saved on my computer in files with names like 'bodies', 'flowers', 'cabinets', 'cars', and this will include images I've taken from the internet. I then throw things together digitally on the computer and print these collages out and rough it out on the canvas... I will scale the image up to the same ratio as the canvas, which I grid for reference. I also photograph the canvas, print it out and draw on it.

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Digital Collage

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Painting - Community Project

...When you've scaled up an A3 print there are very ugly things happening - a lack of information, clashes of composition - these are things which I may not of noticed, some of which, in their illegibility, add something to the picture. It can be thrilling, a sort of no man's land. At this scale, parts of the image have to be interpreted and invented.

"The objects I put in the painting are often metaphors for the body, so if it's a tree, or a piece of cable, or a balloon or a bit of hard plastic - it's often things which are penetrating the body, machines which affect the body, or stand-ins for the body, a proxy body. For instance, a tree is a proxy vein; plastic bags too become lungs or organs. They're all to do with physicality - for me, they are the body."

"People look at my paintings and often say they feel an even has just happened, or is about to happen. And I like that."

"My subjects come from medical text books, historical documents, GI snapshots bought from eBay, erotica, and contemporary street photography. With the pornography, the positions people get into, and the bad quality of the images, interested me because of that fine line between feeling great and feeling terrible."

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- From exhibition book 'Justin Mortimer' by Haunch of Venison Gallery

Manfredi Beninati

Based in Palermo, Italy, Manfredi started working as a contemporary artist in 2000 after a three year stint as a film director’s assistant. He has fostered a love for cinematography since his youth, when he often missed school after staying up all night to watch films... There is in Beninati’s work a manifest tension between serenity and anxiety. The works have an emotional power which harks back to the landscape of memory that links our childhood, adolescence and present.

 The White Review: Your work is often described as having a fragmented narrative; does this have anything to do with your passion for cinematography?

Manfredi Beninati: I’d rather say that my passion for narration makes me passionate about cinema and art, as well as any other medium that allows you to tell a story. In my art it is true that there are always lots of fragments that, if you want, you can piece together following your own sense of narrative and make up your own story, your own film, if you prefer. This is more evident in my installations, which are always conceived as if they were film stills in three dimensions, depicting a moment when all the human characters have left the scene, and you can decide what’s happened a second before and what will happen a second after you have left.

The White Review: Your works present the internal connection that links us to our childhood, adolescence and the transient present: do you think these memories constitute an individual?

Manfredi Beninati: Indeed they do. I think our whole adult lives revolve around our childhoods. We are all looking for the flavours and smells of the time when we were innocent.

(Extracts from) Interview by Lowenna Waters - www.thewhitereview.org

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Manfredi Beninati's work explores the theme of life's journey. He does this using the pictures of children and of adolescents at the edge of a forest, on a pathway, on a road, on a bicycle, by the sea. These images unlock in the mind of the viewer memories of the anxieties as well as the securities of childhood and the struggle of moving towards in life.
Often Beninati's works have strong literary and artistic references. Sometimes the artist uses images of boats, horses, cycles and other means of transport as metaphors, again, of the journey of life.In a number of his works a mother and a child image seems to refer to both the "time honoured" tradition of "Madonna and Bambino" as well as provoking a more modern and psychological interpretation of the genesis of life.

Beninati's skills as a painter and draftsman are highly developed and, in combination with his cinematic eye, produce paintings of surprising emotional content. - Lorcan O'Neill

- www.manfredibeninati.com

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