July’s Featured Work is Marquee by Dexter Dalwood. This painting depicts an empty stage at London’s Marquee Club, the location of the first-ever live performance by the Rolling Stones on 12 July 1962.


© Dexter Dalwood

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The Stones’ performance was at 165 Oxford Street, the club’s first London location. The Marquee opened in 1958 with a range of jazz and skiffle acts. In its most famous period from 1964 to 1988 at 90 Wardour Street in Soho, this small and relatively dilapidated club helped launch the careers of many rock and punk bands including The Cortinas. The artist, Dexter Dalwood, was The Cortinas’ bass guitarist and, in June 1977, the band had their first headline show at the Marquee Club.

In Dalwood’s painting Marquee the stage is bare and curiously makeshift with the suggestion of a platform in front. Although only half in view at the top of painting, the typeface used for the famous logo of the club is distinctive. As the Marquee had its signage behind the band, the lights appear to be shining into a non-existent audience. It seems like a fairly forlorn scene, half-remembered – the bright lights dominating the stage perhaps the main memory that Dalwood has from the time. There is a strong formal composition that he worked out in advance by painting collages created out of printed material, often appropriating elements from artists like Matisse, Ruscha and Hockney. There’s often a stark lack of people in his compositions that are faintly reminiscent of the empty stage sets of Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico (1888–1978).

Dalwood is interested in reworking the genre of history painting. He merges art history with imagined scenes from pop culture, such as Jackie Onassis’ yacht in Jackie Onassis (2000) or Mao Tse-Tung’s workspace in Mao Tse-Tung’s Study (2000). His paintings are about the way they are constructed, and appear to challenge the viewer to unravel their multi-layered narratives. This analytical approach suggests that Dalwood wants us to go beyond the idea that the painting is simply beautiful or aesthetically appealing.

Dexter Dalwood was born in Bristol. He received his BA from Central St Martin’s in 1985. He studied for his MA at the Royal College of Art, London, from 1988–1990. In 2012 he was appointed Professor of Art and Design at Bath Spa University. He was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2010.

Dalwood’s solo exhibitions include: Recent History, Gagosian Gallery, London (2007) Endless Night, Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, USA (2009); Dexter Dalwood: Retrospective, Tate St Ives, CAC Malaga, Spain and FRAC Reims, France (2010); Dexter Dalwood: Collages, Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, (2010); Dexter Dalwood: London Paintings, Simon Lee Gallery, London (2014–15) and Dexter Dalwood: Propaganda  Paintings, Simon Lee Gallery, London (2016).