Denise Weston

Baby no.9


These works are simply titled with a number, alluding to the notion of a series, and also that of labelling  and identification. Both of these images were produced using a black and white photograph as the initial starting point.

This work explores the idea of multiple & mirror images, where reflection, used literally & metaphorically, may reveal an alternate reality. The idea of the 'doppelganger' is a significant influence in the production of these portraits: the sense of another self, identical or opposing, perhaps, or even subtly different, which may exist in a parrallel world.

Baby No. 9 and Baby No. 10 are self-potraits and were completed in 2005. Baby No. 2 and Baby No. 3 depict my father. The first of these was finished in 2002, two years after his death; the second was completed in 2005. My mother, who died in 1991  is referenced in my earlier work.


Published Critique


"In the past Denise Weston has produced haunting images of uninhabited children's costumes but recently she has concentrated on a series of baby portraits that act as reminders of our frailty, vulnerability and mortality. 'These babies are not real' she says. Elsewhere she makes notes of 'Babies too large to carry. Frozen moments or false reality.' Captured in poses of repose, they look distinctly uncomfortable. Some lie apparently as motionless as mannequins. Others stare down the viewer with gazes of dreadful vacuity. Innocence seems to have been lost without any semblance of formative experrience having been gained. Are Weston's subjects ailing, petrified or dolled-up and dead? Maybe, God forbid, they have already become transfixed by the brain numbing addictions of children's TV? Mostly the sole props are oversized cot-death cushions and pillows. Throughout, the artist matches the discomfort of her imagery with a painterly style that is deliberately awkward. She daubs the oil paint on, fidgets with it around the facial features, dots the eyes in. The perspective is somehow awry, so limbs look dislocated, hands claw-like, toes deformed. Her colours tend to be nauseous greens, acidic blues, faecal browns, icy greys, sullied yellows, bruised pinks. Her backgrounds are soiled and smeared. Yet Weston utterly avoids melodrama and sensationalism. Nothing is illustrated or overstated. Everything is embodied in the formal, technical and compositional make-up of the paint itself. So Weston is a real painter."

Robert Clark 2004
Mere Jelly catalogue for the exhibition, mere jelly @ On The Wall, Olympia, London. 

Robert Clark is an artist and writer. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. He writes for the Guardian and is a Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at The University of Derby, UK.

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