Brian Dawn Chalkley
The untold depth of savagery
'The untold depth of savagery' (2020)
Brian Dawn Chalkley draws, paints, makes films, dresses up, performs and writes monologues. A great chronicler of contemporary life, the stories she has to tell take place in seedy hotel rooms, lonely apartments, in bars and sex clubs and patches of woodland.
The work is full of character, and the character is Dawn’s best invention. In her work Dawn tackles subjects that are universally human: identity, gender, social status and sexuality drawing us in with wit, affecting sentiment and nostalgia as well as, at times, repression, fear and anger.
For her debut show at the gallery, Missing, in December 2018 the artist created a series of new works over a 12 month period that continues their engagement with problems of identity and subjecthood resulting in 454 portraits, each one from imagination and presented in a grid like formation covering the walls of the gallery from floor to ceiling.
Working with watercolours on wet paper the portraits appear unrecognisable and androgynous. Ultimately, the faces do not figure under a unifying theme or have anything in common, the body of work produced for this exhibition demonstrates the conditional and relational nature of identity, that the subject is comprised of the many people in one’s life.
Most recently Dawn applies the seductive qualities of handmade craft such as embroidery, portraits, handwritten and stitched texts adorn pillow cases and fabric sought from local markets. Dawn's alluring embroidery takes an art form traditionally associated with historical allegorical art to elevate the commonplace dramas of modern life.
Brian Dawn Chalkley lives and works in London.
Brian Dawn Chalkley draws, paints, makes films, dresses up, performs and writes monologues.
The stories she has to tell take place in seedy hotel rooms, lonely apartments, in bars and sex clubs and patches of woodland. Obsession, repression, sexual fantasy, secrets, solitude and a very bleak kind of humour are among the artist’s subjects. The work is full of character, and the character is the artist’s best invention.
The question is not so much who to be today, or what story to tell one-self, so much as whether to hoover or to shoot oneself. The frock is on the hanger, and the revolver is on the table.
Looking at Brian Dawn's work I ask myself who is the stalker, who is the stalked?
Brian Dawn Chalkley: Missing - Press Release