Dexter Dalwood: 2059

10 September - 30 October 2021

Simon Lee Gallery presents a series of new paintings by British artist Dexter Dalwood on the occasion of his second exhibition at the Hong Kong space.

In these recent works, Dalwood looks nearly four decades into the future, to the year 2059; something that the title of each painting in the exhibition makes reference to. In spite of this nominative forward-looking approach, the artist resumes his longstanding commitment to the construction and interpretation of history in painting: each work is composed out of a network of interrelated references and sources from across the annals of art, politics, literature, as well as Dalwood’s own biography. The mix of brutalism and elegance, the old and the new depicted in this latest series creates visual paradoxes that echo a version of the future that simultaneously reflects on the present.

Although Dalwood’s lexicon remains deeply embedded in the history painting genre, these new works dispense with diagrammatic attitudes towards pictorial space, instead bringing together various, often disparate, elements. Ultimately, Dalwood prioritises the overall consonance of the painting over any preconceived notion of composition, sacrificing linear perspective in the pursuit of an overall approach to painting as object that takes negative space, the edge of the canvas and the temperament of the paint – amongst other elements – into account.

Nonetheless, Dalwood continues to allude to the art-historical canon: each work is similar in scale to Jean-Siméon Chardin’s The House of Cards,offering compositional references both to this painting and Cezanne’s The Card Players. Appearing throughout the series is a circular motif that materialises in astronomical configurations of planets, or as in 2059 (portal),a classical still life fruit bowl. From Giotto’s perfect, free-hand O to a symbolic link between heaven and earth, the circle in art history conjures a myriad of associations. Painted over the course of the past year, Dalwood communicates with this imagery something of the insularity of life and the circularity of existence.