The location of the white pavilion in the foyer is echoed by the free-standing back walls in the main salon room to its left. The walls carry the large, dynamic and explosive paintings of British artist Sean Dawson called "Hyper Cluster" and "Venus Smile", which he has site-specifically prepared for the exhibition. Dawson's ability to create a sense of layered spatial ambiguity, in which optical and folded temporalities seem to bend back upon one another, is not the least of his accomplishments. On the one hand they present a fast-moving futuristic sense of optical externality, and on the other a sense of mental "inscape", as if one is experiencing the flashing thoughts of an internal consciousness. While the paintings clearly evoke associations with ideas derived from expressive and illusionistic abstraction, and from notions of collage and image juxtaposition, at the same time it is their commitment to creating distinct but interactive pictorial elements and the optical folding of space that "relates one to the other by distinguishing them: a severing by which each term casts the other forward, a tension by which each fold is pulled into another."[i] This is often understood today in terms of a new Baroque aesthetic, an operative pictorial parallelism in which former scientific notions of simple cause and effect are no longer stable, and which in consequence reflects the contradictions found in modern notions of spatial and temporal relativity. Beyond the immediate idea of folded space, the "Holtzman effect' is a characteristic common to the speculative, fictive projections of "quantum theory", as elaborated in futuristic science fictions of imagined worlds.[ii] The temporal aspects of film, sound, and music technology fascinate Dawson, too. As they are simultaneously aural and spatial phenomena, they share a preoccupation with music in his mind, and his paintings and exhibitions have often referred directly to sources of musical inspiration.
[i] Gilles Deleuze 'What is Baroque?", The Fold: Leibnitz and the Baroque, trans. Tom Conley, London, 1993, pp. 27-30 (p. 30).
[ii] The "Holtzman effect" was conceived by Frank Herbert (1920-86) as part of the series of novels and other spin-offs deriving from his book Dune (1965), which was made into a film by David Lynch in 1983. The book remains the largest selling science fiction book of all time with over 12 million copies sold.
© Mark Gisbourne 2010