It is often remarked that the quality and nuance of painting is only
understood in person rather than in print or on the screens to which are now
accustomed, but Graham Dean’s paintings are a true example of the palpable
materials and saturated pigments lost in reproduction. In his most recent paintings, handmade paper
is intensely worked with a confidence that arises above preciousness, and yet
his subjects are indeed precious and have emotional interior lives mimicking
the sensuousness of his pigments.
For Dean, the body is
a ‘holding-pen of emotions.’ His work is inspired by the research of Wilhelm
Reich, a student of Sigmund Freud, and particularly the concept of 'armoring,'
or the unique coping mechanisms we develop to withstand life which then become
our psychological 'suits of armor.'
Using what he calls
"reverse archaeology," Dean re-invents the traditional uses of
watercolor resulting in a unique technique. Contrasting layers of paint are
applied separately on thick, handmade paper from India. Each sheet has
undergone a process of tearing and overlapping to create a final composition,
this corresponds to the multiple layers of the epidermis which protects the
human body. The process is organic and cyclical, the paintings appear
fragmented and destroyed using sections (front and back) that lead to a
renaissance in the form of a new composition.
Dean has exhibited internationally now for over 25
years including in China, the Netherlands, Italy, and Singapore. His work is in
many private and public collections throughout the world, including the
Victoria & Albert Museum, the Contemporary Arts Society, the Glasgow Museum
of Modern Art, the Ferens Museum and Art Gallery, Hull, and Arts Council
England. His corporate collections include Merrill Lynch, the Royal Bank of
Scotland, and Simmons and Simmons. He
lives and works in Brighton, England.