Adam Fenton’s Painting Club is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by David Dellagi.  On view at No Format Contemporary Visual Art Gallery in London, it marks the artist’s first solo presentation in the city.

Inner Beauty includes large-scale paintings that feature inner organs projected out of the body and into industrial landscapes, architecture, vehicles and interacting or interfused with animals.  These seemingly violent juxtapositions are blended together by a mastery of form recalling classical painting techniques - full volume forms resulting from the exquisite tonal graduation between light and dark and the finely tuned brushwork displaying an intensity of color, evoking the aesthetics of technicolor cinema. The paintings are not only macabre but also display a dark humor stemming from the absurdity of the motives;  a giant kidney growing out of an estate building, intestines protruding from a huge painting in a museum and towering over a group of spectators, a bio-mechanical cow in a Martian landscape. Thus, we are confronted with narratives and imagery that question the nature of reality, the body and the mind through the use of humor, paradoxes and puns.

Dellagi emulates the style of vintage science- and natural history textbook illustration of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Generally considered an anonymous, industrialized product, this illustration style is characterized by a fascinating retro look and an artificiality in its depiction of an idealized world that lends itself perfectly to the artist’s aim of subverting it to tell more disturbing narratives.

The narrative format being explored is that of the condensed narrative, very much related to the genre of the single panel cartoon, and characterized by some unexpected element that somehow disturbs the inherent logic of the narrative, and points towards madness and the irrational.  It is worth noting the acknowledged relation between the work of Dellagi and that of Roland Topor. While dissimilar in technical terms, there are striking similarities in the choice of narrative format and general philosophy of letting loose the monsters of the Id, radically setting both these artists apart from other artists who seem to be using the condensed narrative format for politically correct or moral aims.

The connections to Surrealism and the Surrealist method of juxtaposing elements that seem unlikely to merge are obvious  and underlined by Dellagi’s use of collage as a departure point in the construction of his works. However, there is another strong undercurrent at work, namely that of the allusions to body horror.  These allusions are apparent in the exhibition’s theme of the radical extension of the mind into the physical terrain of the flesh and the landscape, the title Inner Beauty even taking a cue from a quote by renowned film auteur and body horror pioneer David Cronenberg, commenting on the aesthetic qualities of the insides of our bodies. The very fleshy and visceral existentialism of Cronenberg’s films is carried through in Dellagi’s work as is the kind of extreme metaphor inherent in metaphors connected to body imagery in general and specifically to bodily transformations.

By incorporating these different impulses and combining them with the use of smooth surfaces reminiscent of Pop Art, Dellagi points to new and forceful modes of expression in painting.

Dellagi will also present a suite of new collages, that interweave figurative and constructivist elements.  Although small in size, the collages take on epic themes such as the cosmos, eros and death, the collage elements being utilized with virtuosity and discipline.

The exhibition is curated by Adam Fenton.

David Dellagi was born in 1970, in Copenhagen, Denmark.  He lives and works in London, UK.

Dellagi’s practice includes painting, collage, sculpture, drawing, print and film. His stop-motion and marionette puppet short films have been shown at various film festivals.  He has exhibited widely in his native country Denmark as well as internationally, in New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Stockholm and London.  Recent solo exhibitions include Carnivore, The Danish Graphics Association, Copenhagen, 2013, The Umbilical Eye, SOD Gallery, Copenhagen, 2012 and Insanitorium, Galleri Christoffer Egelund, Copenhagen, 2012. Recent group exhibitions include After Surrealism, shown at various art halls and museums around DK, 2013-14, Reality Hype Phase II: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Reality, Sct Hans Kapel, Roskilde, 2015 and Reality Hype Phase I: Mr Banks Has a Mental Breakdown, DIG, London, 2014. Inner Beauty marks his first solo presentation in the UK.