Des Lawrence

Ray Dolby, 2014

Enamel on Aluminum

35.5 × 60.5 cm


Interested in purchasing this work?

Enquire

Additional Information

Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

We offer collectors a range of shipping options including a variety of specialist art couriers.
Please allow four to six weeks for the artwork to arrive after purchase.

Artwork
Description

With his vivid paintings Des Lawrence seeks to fossilise the lives of notable people. The artist’s approach to portraiture is unique, choosing to depict not the visage of his subject but rather objects associated with them: tools of their trade, branded goods they invented – symbols which represent a life’s work.

Lawrence suggests that in the twenty-first century people will be remembered not through themselves, but rather via the material embodiments of their achievements. Objects supplant the human body in a spectacular way: one might not be immediately familiar with the name Ray Dolby, but everyone is aware of this man’s brand.

The Dolby name beams down at the viewer, welcoming them with its words and warm light into a dreamland: the artifice of Hollywood and Lawrence’s painting align. In the image’s retro appearance the artist gives the viewer a glimpse into the past, where Ray Dolby was alive and a leading figure in the film industry as the developer of the video tape recorder. Giving his company his own name ensured that his person was synonymous with his invention, however, whilst in life the two shared notoriety, now the brand has eclipsed the man in its fame. So Lawrence too replaces the physic portrait of Ray Dolby with an advertising poster of the iconic brand.

This objectification of a person and personification of an object recalls the Pop paintings of mid-century America, and allows Lawrence to intertwine popular culture with existential questions to reveal a deep analysis and critique of our society.

About
the artist


Des Lawrence (b. 1970) studied at Glasgow School of Art and Goldsmiths College. Selected shows include 
The London Open at the Whitechapel Gallery, London and REALLY?, Curated by Beth Rudin deWoody at the Wilding Cran Gallery, Los Angeles. Lawrence was awarded the British School in Rome’s Abbey Scholarship in 2005. He lives and works in London.

Lawrence’s practice is varied, comprising of painting, drawing, text and installation. He derives his principal guiding theme from current newspaper obituaries, making his artworks into memorials to the lately departed. The artist conceives of his work as a form of ‘history painting’, a much-neglected in the field of contemporary art. His works have the precision and fidelity of a painting by Delaroche or Gérôme, but none of the frozen aspect. Lawrence’s interest is in the passage of time, in the humanity of loss and the lost, not reviving a cryogenically frozen past for the viewer.

The artist has noted that he is ‘unnaturally fixated upon the microscopic subtlety of a surface’, another parallel to the neo-Grec painters whom Baudelaire characterised as the ‘school of pedants’. However, for Lawrence, this surface does not represent intellectual clarity but rather our myopic tendencies: our desire to see no further than what we expect.

The artist has previously stated his initial desire to be neutral and repetitive in his tributes to the deceased, like the macabre journalism on which his work is based. Indeed, his approach is rather editorial: citing On Kawara’s Date Paintings, Lawrence sought a subject matter that would regenerate itself continuously; endless, like days and months, and years of a calendar. There is no room for freedom of expression in this matter-of-fact encounter with death. However, recently Lawrence has accepted his role as a storyteller, allowing his art to launch an ever-expanding fleet of emotions and ideas. This has been aided and abetted by the increasing role the internet search engine has played in his practice. Lawrence has embraced this new technology’s impact upon the historical record, abandoning fruitless searches in dusty archives for a digital quest where a single train of thought can yield multiple visual and verbal parallels.


Lawrence’s practice is varied, comprising of painting, drawing, text and installation. He derives his principal guiding theme from current newspaper obituaries, making his artworks into memorials to the lately departed. The artist conceives of his work as a form of ‘history painting’, a much-neglected in the field of contemporary art.


Des Lawrence
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

November 1st, 2018 until
January 6th, 2019
Curated by ARTUNER