Thursday, 30 July 2009


The preoccupation and inspiration for Dameon Priestly's paintings is the story behind the picture - what is not seen.

Is there such a thing as an average man or woman? Is there ever such a thing as an average day? What goes on in the minds of the sexes and what happens behind closed doors? Dameon's paintings engage in a series of narratives which subtly weave their way through the paintings: a visual depiction of what can lie beneath the surface; at times in a seemingly innocent image.

Dameon's view of the world may be termed dark by some; his series of paintings reveal the 'strangeness' concealed behind the seemingly banal and random monotony of lifes' experiences and human behaviour.

The stories they tell are those which the viewer does not necessarily want to know; and yet forces them to fill in that which is not always apparent, resulting in the uncomfortable recognition of a disturbing undertone.

Often Dameon depicts people seeking an alternative life and sees straight to the fragile hearts of his characters without ever becoming sentimental.

With rare exceptions, his stories end with disturbing circumstances; as he captures his subject's quiet desperation, with full emotional tension, anxiety and melancholy. Portrayed against everyday backdrops where the drama unfolds.

His work lends itself to those basics of old-fashioned storytelling: plot, character, and action. The culminating results within the paintings are sometimes both simultaneously beautiful and haunting; or arresting in their strength.

Dameon sources literature; both fact and fiction, movies, religion, social and political history as his inspirational pool; he lives and works in London and has sold paintings nationally and internationally.

Sub note:
A comment, question or criticism of using the female image as the recurrent theme in Dameon’s work occasionally arises.

The majority of source material of these images is from high street fashion magazines. The images are adopted and adapted enough so as to not infringe on any copyright
laws – but the integral feel and expression of the carefully selected model is kept intact.

This means of working is an important part of the process of telling the story. The idea that an image taken from a fashion magazine aimed at women, and placed and within a painting investigating and commenting on the 'story’ of women in the darker side of the modern world; can then be regarded as exploitation or as an unnecessary sexual image, is in fact, part of the underlying message in the work.

In the documentary film ‘Picture Me’, model Sara Ziff tells of her third casting in The East Village, New York, when a famous fashion photographer asked her to strip down to her underwear at the age of 14. She goes on to document a series of questionable, if not disturbing incidents that happened to her and other young models with top photographers. The resulting photographs from these shoots are destined for women’s glossy magazines world wide.

Surely the question to be asked is – if these images are created for women to sell clothes, how can they offend in the context of a painting when the accompanying message is changed to make the viewer ‘see’ them differently? Again – to reiterate – if the fashion magazine image put within the context of a painting offends or raises questions, then surely they should at least raise
an eyebrow at their original source. Photographers and advertisers know exactly what they are doing when creating an image. Perhaps ‘Adbusters’ magazine addresses this conundrum better than most. When product
becomes image and the product being sold is on the vehicle of a human being, the picture editor knows precisely what they are projecting and selling and which buttons are being pushed to do so.

If the isolation of one of these images makes the viewer feel uncomfortable or question the validity/morality or reason for their use – it’s probably because, at their source– they should.


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