18th February 2008
For the past ten years, Dawn Mellor has been painting portraits of celebrities, consciously misrepresenting, sexualising and violating imagery culled from photographic portraits, gossip magazines, film stills and the internet. The combination of imaginative sadistic cruelty, satire and empathy could be seen as communicating something about the use of both individuals and groups as scapegoats onto which unwanted fears and anxieties are projected.
Mellor's subjects range from well known actors and entertainers such as Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn, Nicole Kidman and Michael Jackson to politicians and world leaders including, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and Condoleezza Rice, writers and academics Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Giles Deleuze and Helene Cixous. This exhibition will comprise over sixty works clustered together salon style in the main gallery space. The exhibition also includes a new series of paintings of the actress Julianne Moore and drawings of Britney Spears for Spacex.
Mellor invents, with black humour, personas or positions from which each series of work is made. In this case that of a violent, paranoid and competitive outsider to 'high society' with quasi-religious delusions and fantasies of power and divine judgement. Mellor's 'persecution' of her subjects makes reference to Satre's famous suggestion that hell is other people, or in this case, hell is misrepresentation.
Vile Affections has been influenced by Dante's Divine Comedy and Satre's No Exit. The exhibition is an assault on the values that define and construct 'high society' and conventional notions of success in the form of a portrait gallery, where various ambassadors from the worlds of fashion, politics, music, film, art and literature suffer with varying degrees of dignity and respect.
Mellor lives and works in London. She has had recurring solo exhibitions at Team Gallery, New York; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; Il Capricorno, Venice; Galerie Drantmann, Brussels and has a forthcoming solo exhibition at Migros Museum, Zurich in November 2008. She has participated in various group exhibitions including: Yvon Lambert, New York (2007); Defamation of Character, PS1, New York (2006); Expanded Painting, Prague Biennial (2005) and Remix: Contemporary Art and Pop, Tate Liverpool (2002).
SPACEX 45, Preston Street, Exeter EX1 1DF, www.spacex.org.uk, 01392 431786
Dawn Mellor - Vile Affections: 8 March - 3 May 2008