David Dawson, Mirror in Studio (2004)

Like many a good artist’s studio, that of Lucian Freud required a mirror. And when David Dawson was in the studio it would have become a rich metaphor.

Freud‘s longterm assistant was also a painter. The master would also paint Dawson. And Dawson in turn made portraits of his employer – photographic, like the one here.

But in this shot, Freud is conspicuous by his absence in the room, then conspicuous again by his absence in the mirror. The brushes and the marks on his wall stand in.

It almost goes without saying that Freud is all the more present for being invisible. Just as he seems ubiquitous ever since he passed away last Summer.

Dawson is also absent, bur only up to a point. This is no baroque conceit like Las Meninas in which the artist includes his own mirror image in the composition.

Instead he gives the impression of this being an objective view of both ends of an empty studio. And in its way, that too is a bit of trickery.

It is a trick which captures the sad reality of this space on a top floor in Holland Park  Freud can no longer be here. Dawson, after 20 years service, has no reason to return.

David Dawson: Working with Lucian Freud can be seen at Pallant House Gallery until 20 May 2012. See gallery website for times, etc. Click here to watch a video interview with Dawson

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