Cliff Notes

What attracts most about Deanne’s work are the layers of engagement and response it demands of the viewer. I am drawn into the physical nature of the paint while encountering stories of vulnerability, playfulness, absurdity and the deeply serious impact that relationships have on our mind and body

This often comes across as an intense tension, bearing witness to a moment in time, a narrative, a play. Yet the psychological drama that is unfolding has been caught or frozen, not so that it loses the context of what happened before (or will afterwards), but maybe as with a polaroid, in that it processes, changes and reveals before your eyes.

When I look at Dawn Peebody it typifies my whole viewing experience. Drawn in, seduced by paint and flesh, discomforted, protective (of) and unnerved (by) vulnerability – what has happened, with whom and why?

It is always interesting to observe the structures artists use in constructing their stories in paint. Deanne, in setting her stage (as Francis Bacon did with plinths, cages and furniture), frequently separates foreground and background and by doing so emphasises further the sense of seeing the figures in an unfolding scene or drama. This has an effect, as with the analogy of a polaroid picture developing in front of you, that can be almost filmic; you are waiting with trepidation to see what might emerge next.

Deanne’s use of paint compounds this effect. Often she uses milky translucent washes, as in Dawn Peebody, that make the figure look as if it is emerging from freshly developed film, and yet could just as easily fade away if over exposed.

At other times the canvas is stencilled, embossed, paint and lines tattooed. It forms, as in Jane Doe, a background for startling light and dark contrasts. The body almost becomes functional, sometimes displaying an enveloping controlling maleness, or a female vulnerability that confronts aspects of itself and others.

Overall I love these paintings, the bewitching, sublime and complex responses they evoke. Like a satisfying debate, they start by tempting and luring me in with paint and light, consolidate by playing out the theatrical psychological drama, and then finish with the need to return the gaze.

Visceral, physical and perfectly disturbing.

Written by Cliff Free in response to a studio visit, January 2016

image Dawn Peebody