Sean Dawson - New Paintings


In his primarily abstract and increasingly atmospheric paintings Sean Dawson explores a myriad of metaphorical (and metaphysical) worlds inspired by experimental music, literature, architecture and art history, via a very literal process of amongst other references, painting paint, painting the act, process and phenomena of painting itself.

From this seemingly self-referential genesis, Dawson's painterly motifs undergo a transformation and metamorphosis as they are blown-up and projected to a scale which 'opens them up' to reveal hidden details, colours, forms, depths, contours, rhythms and flows on the surface of the canvas. Realised almost as semi-sculptural 'becoming-forms', appearing out of an array of ambiguous backdrops - each lending itself towards different associative readings; elusive narratives and formal relationships are evoked within a usually shallow, 'theatrical' & illusory space. These often excessive and baroque manifestations continually expand and contract between what they are and what they are not; charting the terrain between the f/act and fiction of painting.

Dawson's interest lies in the unseen and the mysterious, in the possibility and potential for the familiar to evoke the other and in this respect, it is no surprise that one of his favourite authors is J.G. Ballard and favourite painters is Max Ernst. The fact that Ballard was also an admirer of Max Ernst is made all the more relevant and pertinent in the disturbingly evocative account of a disintegrating London, relinquishing its iconicity and reality to a mythical state of submersion beneath an encroaching tropical lagoon. For Dawson, it is the moments when the relationship between inside and outside, reality and myth, fact and fiction are blurred, that are the 'true' catalysts for (re)-invention.

"Kerans threw her a mock salute and strolled over to look at the painting by Ernst at the far end of the lounge, while Bodkin gazed down at the jungle through the window. More and more the two scenes were coming to resemble each other, and in turn the third nightscape each of them carried within his mind."



From The Drowned World; J.G. Ballard, 1962


© Jo Mitchell 2010 (extract in Rohkunstbau XVII catalogue)