• THE CONSPIRATORS
    DAWN MELLOR
  • 10 APRIL — 15 MAY 2010 
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Opening reception: Saturday 10 April, 17.00 — 19:30 hrs

Amsterdam 5 April, 2010 — Galerie Gabriel Rolt is proud to present THE CONSPIRATORS, an exhibition of recent paintings by British artist Dawn Mellor. This will be Mellor's first solo exhibition in The Netherlands.
Comprised of portraits of actresses in movie roles - the likes of Ingrid Thulin in The Damned, Kathy Bates in Misery, Charlotte Rampling in The Night Porter, Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady - the works are all based on film stills. Each painting isolates the actress in the canvas, with its iconic figure subjected to warped symbolism, acts of violence and physical mutation.


These works continue Mellor's on-going exploration of celebrity culture; emphasising the cliches of type and character that the media creates, and exploiting the public's often perverse fascination with these characters. The works relate closely to Vile Affections, Mellor's on-going series of portraits of pop, political, historical figures who have each undergone her painterly amendments and interventions (Morrissey stabbed with brushes, zombie-faced Hillary Clinton, Karl Lagerfeld with a big cockroach on his head). In 2008, Mellor made a group of paintings featuring Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz - casting this icon of wholesome Americana in roles such as refugee, gay rights activist, soldier. These interventions, marked with black humour and outrageous imagery, exploit the awkwardness of upsetting our notions or existing relationships towards these figures. In the case of the paintings in this exhibition, there is the dual identity at stake of both the actress and the character they are playing. For these works Mellor draws from films mainstream, cult, trashy and deified - equalising the figures in this painted world. Each starts life as a conventional portrait before Mellor begins her process of transformation - the combative, physical handling of the paint pulling the image far from its photographic origins.

The history of portraiture - of representing the great and the good, the key figures of our age - is upheld by Mellor. There is a mixture of fascination, repulsion and affection for the subjects as well as an audacity and cheek with regards to portraying these figures, often brutally and negatively, without their knowledge or approval. In a way this embodies our current spirit of public figures being public property.