Darkness Entwined With Beauty
I have been an admirer of Dale Marshall and his art ever since I visited the Room 101 exhibition in Bristol back in 2010, an exhibition which brought tears to my eyes and with that a new way of looking at the world.
When I visited the Room 101 exhibition on the opening night it was literally wall to wall with people, people like me who had travelled to the event from out of town, people from Bristol eager to watch this local and respected graffiti artist turned fine artist deliver his 101 paintings in 101 days priced at £101.00. Every inch of the wall space in the gallery held a canvas and a shower of red ‘sold’ dots landed on each & every canvas faster than a measles epidemic. I headed to the rear of the gallery to escape the hysteria, where it was quieter and took in the installation with the bed and the scrawled red writing on the wall, the room with the torture chair, the syringes, the tools of pain and two of Dale’s own teeth (which he’d had extracted at the denstist the week before) in a hospital dish scattered on the floor and it was here that I felt the impact of the show and understood it’s origins because it was literally screaming at me in the darkness. Returning to view the 101 paintings after experiencing the room installation I felt like I was moving into a new world, the paintings were not as torutured as I’d earlier viewed them and in actual fact they seemed to be a mass expression of freedom and regeneration, a kind of life line.
Since then Dale’s career has moved in epic proportions and I have tried to visit every show he has exhibited in. While I was at his most recent show Coast To Coast at Rook & Raven Gallery I was fortunate to have Dale answer some questions…
EC: America welcomed your art with enthusiastic appreciation; do you think the American art world ‘gets’ your art more than the British market?
Dale: It’s hard to say. I feel Californians are a little more open and they appreciate work with an under lying story (which my work has), maybe it’s a fascination with the movies? I worked with some great galleries in the way of Anno Domini and Soze with solo exhibitions (California State Institution and Best Kept Secret) and got to know collectors who warmed towards me. Educated collectors took the time to critique the pieces and challenge me where I had to respond very well, which I found refreshing.
In the UK I have always produced for a certain market although that is now changing as my work is fitting more to contemporary rather than the urban market due to studying fine art. Time will tell how the British market views my work, this is a new path and one that I am keen to take. Just because people don’t want to try and pull me a part I don’t see it as less appreciation. Whilst exhibiting with LALA Gallery I was receiving great vocal feedback. Sales was good in the States and they are equally good in
the UK, as well as other countries, the vocal positive feedback was definitely stronger in California though, people were more enthusiastic, most definitely.
EC. Coast To Coast appears to have a much richer, warmer and less tortured feel to it than Room 101, did that show lay some ghosts to rest for you and allow you to release other qualities about yourself artistically and emotionally? Or has the last 2 years, both here and studying in the US given you more confidence and definition about yourself as an artist?
Dale: I am really happy with the Coast to Coast show alongside my good friend and great artist Daniel Lumbini. I feel I have gained a new level of consciousness whilst living in California and I personally feel it shows in my latest collection. As some know, the ‘Room101’ exhibition was quite raw, drawing parallels between my true experience of finding myself in a controlled mental facility back in 1999 and George Orwell’s book titled 1984. That exhibition no doubt laid some ghosts to rest but at the same time some new challenges surfaced, which is a shame.
Whilst in America I had some amazing inspirational people around me who I trusted to make me not just a better person but also a better artist. I worked heavily on my application process and its naturally become more complete, the calmness of nuances can give the same effect as thrashing sharp lines on a piece and I am happier working this way, its not shouting its speaking. Many of the CtC pieces are like the whole Room101 exhibition in themselves, on one surface, describing moments of my past. My conceptual thought process has matured whilst studying in the US and I feel more confident and always looking forward to the next piece through exploration of new materials. The works are calmer but metaphorically darker on many levels, I’ve always tried to work towards that perfect balance, darkness entwined with beauty.
EC. Without art where would you be?
Dale: I certainly wouldn’t be in the position I am in today, that is a fact. In some spiritual sense I feel I now have some sort of role to play as a painter. Art has helped me piece and stitch my life back together. Some people have asked, “Why do you paint?” With the answer being, I won’t feel complete until I have given a certain amount of contribution back and raised a little awareness to the illness that I had, I don’t know? Art is the only thing I really care about and have a true relationship with when it comes to wanting to maintain a career.
EC: Where next, what are your plans for the future?
Dale: For a start I will not be releasing any more work for the foreseeable future, that’s it. I am now working on a huge project, which is going to take 100% concentration and commitment for 18 months or more. A contemporary Room101 styled project. I live in extremely inspiring countryside where I try not to converse with people, to keep my life simple and cut any negative influence. I plan on staying happy whilst trying my best to keep my family happy and keep fully dedicated to my art practice, which isn’t easy!
EC: Is there a question you ask yourself?
Dale:. Have you fully recovered and if so what would you say was the catalyst for recovery? I am still paranoid and my latest ‘phase’ is thinking people are voice recording me, it all started in LA. I just get this overwhelming feeling where I think damn I have just been recorded, but it’s nothing really compared to extreme paranoia (which I once dealt with for a long time). The catalyst for recovery was discharging myself from anti psychotic medication and taking control of my life with art and a change in circumstances. My previous ill health has left with what I consider a 6th sense and I have always trusted my intuition where I make strong choices that leave others unhappy sometimes. Over the past 2 years I feel as though I have excelled and I’m slowly making up for 7 years of lost time due to a strong work ethic, I’m happy and seem to get happier with age.
A big thank you to Dale for taking the time to answer these questions.