Verne Dawson


These simultaneous exhibitions featuring Keith Tyson (GB, born 1969) and Verne Dawson (USA, born 1961) show material that could not look more different, and yet both artists' work is predicated on the explanatory models and myths underlying our perceptions and thus also our reality.

The painter Verne Dawson deliberately chooses a "naïve" style for his painting, so that he can make the presence of ancient explanation models for time and reality visible as effective elements within our present. Portraits of historical figures, landscapes that amalgamate creation myths with phenomena of the modern world, still lifes and abstract pictorial compositions risk taking a clear-eyed look at concepts of tradition and modernity and are metaphorical images of a cultural and historical way of looking at things that sees history not as research but as the origin of our reality. Was George Washington a good person because he decided to become not the king but the president of America, and what social phenomena generated this? What influence on culture is exerted by real figures like the "Unabomber", who sent a letter-bomb once a year as a protest against the dominance of high-tech, or the fictitious character of Barone Ramparte in Italo Calvino's "The Baron in the Trees", who moved into the treetops as a protest against reality? Has our relationship with numerology, astrology or rituals changed, even though we still call the days of the week after heavenly bodies? Is "the wild" natural and good and civilization always a problem? The "Big Bear" in Verne Dawson's painting is looking circumspectly from the starry sky at an auspiciously distant point at which an observatory can be seen in the wild landscape: the "wild" bear, the bear in the constellation and the scientific facility for researching the images that were read in the skies to provide direction and assurance even in ancient times, are bought together in a single image. Thus the artist's pictures are anything but naïve in terms of content, and constantly deal with the relationship of civilization or culture to what we customarily call nature; they are asking that morally interpretative analyses and approaches should be revised.