21st-Century Portraits

ARTBOOK | D.A.P.
Feb 19, 2014 3:17PM
Dawn Mellor's 2007 oil painting, "Morrissey," is reproduced from the National Portrait Gallery's smart new survey, 21st Century Portraits. Essayist Jo Higgins writes, "If tabloid magazines could paint, their garish and sometimes cruel editorials would probably look like the portraits of celebrities that have appeared in Dawn Mellor's ongoing Vile Affections series (2007–). No one is spared Mellor's caustic treatment, as politicians, film stars, world leaders and even the occasional feminist theorist are brutally misrepresented—disfigured, mutilated, sexualized and parodied with the enthusiasm of an overzealous fan. Punctured with paintbrushes as if shot from a bow, the singer Morrissey, quiff still intact, spouts blood from his head and torso like a grim firework, while former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher emerges as if from the mines, the 'strike' on her forehead an ambiguous violent entreaty… Despite the violence inflicted upon them, there exists a mawkish empathy towards her subjects, and Mellor has said that the real object of her disillusion is not the celebrity, but the media machinations that surround them."
ARTBOOK | D.A.P.
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