A Shrigley Esquire

David Shrigley just tweeted this.
"I just did a cover design for Esquire magazine. They said they are not going to use it. Why on earth not?" 

Jonah Sack

I work at the Guardian, and for the Guide to Drawing we did last year I interviewed Jonah Sack. Jonah is currently based in Cape Town where he recently completed a fellowship at the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts. He makes intriguing narrative sequences exploring landscapes, urban and other. His touch is both light and frail, bold and fresh. Check him out here.


Dexter Dalwood

I wrote this piece for Catalogue Magazine a few months ago. It was great speaking to Dexter about his work, and then seeing he'd been nominated for the Turner Prize this year... I'm excited to see the show when it's up.

The Poll Tax Riots, 2005, oil on canvas, 98-1/2 x 134 inches (250 x 340 cm)  

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.


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.


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.’



I read this quote by DH Lawrence, on witnessing a communcal dance at Taos, New Mexico, in a catalogue of an exhibition entitled Art of the Ancient Americas at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 80s.

"Never shall I forget the utter absorption of the dance, so quiet, so steadily, timelessly rhythmic, and silent, with the ceaseless down-tread, always to the earth's center, the very reverse of the upflow of Sionysiac or Christian ecstasy. Never shall I forget the feep singing of the men at the drum, swelling and sinking, the deepest sound I have heard in all my life, deeper than thunder, deeper than the sound of the Pacific ocean, deeper than the roar of a deep waterfall: the wonderful deep sound of men calling to the unspeakable depths."

The catalogue features pieces about the Nazca lines, Chaco Canyon, Teotihuacan and Tiwanaku. All these ancient ancient places with names like Tabasco that jolt you right back into the greasy spoons and leatherette diners of our times.


Upcoming things

Shirifune (Butt Boat) by my friend Moriro Moriyama is being screened at Cafe Oto on October 2. I met Moriyama in Osaka in 2005 when I did a residency at Osaka Arts Aporia. He lived with Umeda near the Tsutenkaku, proper downtown Osaka where everything takes you by surprise. I walked around with them a lot, listened to lots of music, hung out at Bridge, the most exciting venue I've ever been to, and met lots of interesting people. The area at the foot of the Tsutenkaku tower looks just like the cityscapes in Tekkonkinreet – muddled, jagged, rough, faded and raw. Homeless guys everywhere with their loaded handpulled carts and beautiful blue tent constructions, dodgy dive bars, innards nabe restaurants and kushikatsu restaurants, huge sculptures on buildings, lots of old broken messy stuff. It's a magical place, dark and sad but also (quite literally luminous) and full of strange energies, and amazing music.

Moriyama and Umeda came to London a couple years ago for shows/screenings. We walked around Dalston, ate festivals and cornmeal porridge at Pepper and Spice, drank chai and it was wonderful.

Don't miss Moriyama's screening, and any performance Umeda does, anywhere near to wherever you are, don't miss that either. There's no one else like him.

If I do any upcoming gigs, they'll be posted here, at daleisloup.com. And here, on bunt.