Dexter Dalwood was born in Bristol, England, in 1960. Before becoming an artist, he was a member of the punk rock band The Cortinas. Music has remained an important source of inspiration for his paintings—as has poetry. Dalwood studied at St. Martins School of Art and at the Royal College of Art in London and started exhibiting in the early 1990s. In 1998, his work was part of the critically acclaimed show of new British art, Die Young Stay Pretty at the ICA, London. In 1999 Dalwood’s paintings were included in the exhibition, Neurotic Realism: Part Two at the Saatchi Gallery in London. His work formed part of the 2002 Sydney Biennial and of Days Like These (Tate Triennial) in 2003. Tate St Ives mounted a much acclaimed mid-career retrospective in 2010. Dalwood was subsequently shortlisted for the 2010 Turner Prize. Since 2000, he is represented by Gagosian Gallery.
Dalwood’s paintings and collages mostly 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 draw on an idea of ’History Painting’ as a genre and, like their illustrious antecedents, the quotations, allusions and references can be elusive and highly codified at first. But, like the grand nineteenth century tableaux they allude to, the canvases have an immediacy and power as paintings first and foremost. They range in subject from major historical events like Yalta (2006) or Ceaucescu’s Execution (2002), to imagined places that are marked by some traumatic event, lodged in our collective cultural unconscious; these include Sharon Tate’s House (1998) and Neverland (1999).
Dalwood constructs his pictures by referencing and juxtaposing both image and content. He weaves together personal, social and political histories with art history, popular culture and biography to produce provocative and complex new constellations of meaning. Dalwood’s post-modern, post-pop ’history paintings’ display a smart and seductive lightness of touch; an accessibility and wit offered through the shared experience of the collective political and cultural histories they invoke.