Still Life: Dawn Clements
Private view: Thursday 21 October, 6-9pm
Hales Gallery is pleased to announce the first solo show of New York based artist Dawn Clements.
Dawn Clements work often begins as a small drawing of a single figure, object or space from life, film or TV. To these more paper is often added making the process a very organic way of drawing. The largest works stretch over and up walls in grand ornate compositions. Flowing over connected sheets of paper, they are pieced together into one seamless whole. Each chosen interior is conveyed using complex spatial perspectives. The drawings are never completely realist nor are they conceptual, Clements always responds to what she sees and never knows the end point of a drawing until she reaches it.
When Clements works from life she often looks at her own world, which is usually inside and finds it both comforting and claustrophobic. She has drawn her bed in bed, her kitchen table at the table, a Cape Cod vacation cottage that she was staying in and French doors in France. These drawings act as a release, challenging the often suffocating nature of a safe closed space. They enable these spaces to be seen from a different perspective at a different time, in a different place.
In Lamps (Black and White), 2010 drawn with Sumi ink, Clements navigates a chunk of her own domestic interior by drawing only what she is interested in and leaving blank anything that she is not. The ladies in the pattern of the lampshade, the texture of the wallpaper and the painted cast iron ornament sitting on the table all begin to have a relationship with one another, giving the viewer an uncanny feeling of seeing an inanimate space coming to life through someone else's point of view.
This chunk of Clement's domestic interior is repeated in Lamps (Color), 2010, using a shellac based ink she creates a richly saturated coloured drawing. This is the first time Clements has used this medium and the intense colour has a feel of old Technicolor films. It is not unusual for subjects to be repeated in the Still Lifes. Disturbed through ever-shifting points of view, each time the compositions are slightly different, objects may have been removed or added or drawn when the light has changed. In this particular piece the patterned lampshade has moved giving the viewer a glimpse of what's on the other side.
First Class weaves multiple edited scenes from the film A night to remember [1958, directed by Roy Ward Baker] in to a linear 10 meter drawing, starting from the bowels of the ship to finish with the splendor of the first class interiors. The piece follows the journey taken from steerage by the second class passengers escaping the sinking ship. A moment in the film which has particular resonance for Clements is when the steerage passengers enter first class from the kitchens and although running for their lives stop for a moment in amazement at the luxury that surrounds them. This transformation from basic simple utilitarian environment to opulent splendor is very apparent in the drawing. The original point of view of the camera is channeled by Clements into a different kind of two dimensional image. The film itself was an adaption of Walter Lords book A Night to Remember and Clements takes this artistic evolution one step further by converting the mode of film into drawing.
A significant element of Dawn Clements' work is about seeing and the complicated act that is seeing. In Still Life the pieces highlight what could be seen as mundane and everyday and make the viewer look again. Ordinary objects such as decaying fruit, shoes, tablecloths and lampshades become icons in their own environment. The shoes look to be setting off on their own, to an unknown destination and old fashion Chinese Girls whisper secrets to each other whilst being observed by a group of cast iron Grecian women,. There is also a very physical element to the work making the
drawing objects in themselves. Wrinkles and tears develop as a result of Clements' artistic process and are the record of a very active, performative drawing practice.
Dawn Clements' work (Mrs. Jessica Drummond's (My Reputation, 1945) was included in the Whitney Biennial 2010. Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions, including Boiler, Pierogi Boiler, 2010, Home Sick, Acme, LA, 20101, "Edward Hopper and Contemporary Art" at the Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna, 2008) and is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (NYC) and the Whitney Museum of Art (NYC), among others. She holds a BA from Brown University and an MFA from the State University of New York (Albany). She lives and works in New York, USA.
Dawn Clements, Kitchen Floor, Sennelier ink on paper 2010
Dawn Clements, Lamps (Color), Sennelier ink on paper
Dawn Clements, Shoe Grey, Sumi ink on paper, 2010
Dawn Clements, Color Desk (Chinese Tree and Necklace), Sennelier ink on paper, 2010
Dawn Clements, First Class (A Night to Remember, 1959) (image detail), Sumi ink on paper, 2006