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Previous Exhibitions:   Dilys Bidewell

                                         John Paul Evans
 Turning Men : Paintings and Prints by Dilys Bidewell.

Tuesday 22 February 2005-Saturday 23 April.

Turning Man Card

Dilys Bidewell was born in Sydney Australia. She graduated in Architecture at Sydney University in 1981. While working as an architect she exhibited drawings in collaborative projects with British performance artist Anthony Howell, such as ‘The Tower’ at the  Art Gallery of NSW, Australia in 1984. She moved to the  UK , completing an MA in Fine Art, in 1989, at the  Institute of Higher Education in Cardiff Wales. From 1990 to 1991 she exhibited paintings in the touring group show 'New Contemporaries’. She has since exhibited in London and in group shows at the Universities of  Mongolia and MelbourneAustralia , and also with BAab at Platform,  Melbourne .In 2001 she produced drawings for the book ‘Spending – Poems’ by Anthony Howell, Menard Press, and exhibited an associated set of prints at the London Print Studio Gallery. In 2002 she exhibited an installation of prints titled ‘Brief Encounters’ at a group exhibition at the Heigelenkreuzer HofVienna.  In 2004 she was one of three artists presenting individual exhibitions at the Centro de Arte at San Joao da MadeiraPortugal .

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There are drawings by  Dilys Bidewell that derive their inspiration from certain details in the oeuvre of Leonardo. Her work is investigative, and her researches concern action and intimacy.  In her series of paintings entitled Turning Men, these two concerns are dealt with simultaneously, for there is an ambiguity about these wrestlers in their street-clothes attempting to throw each other in a park. Clearly they are locked in combat, but their grappling is also an embrace. The park ensures a soft landing. Were the setting more unremittingly urban, the violence of these moves would be less paradoxical, more definitely aggressive. Each tries to catch the other off-balance, but as this is achieved, one man goes over the head of the other and a rotation becomes feasible. In some instances, the flailing limbs are enclosed within the gestalt of a circle or an oval.

The images used in the Turning Men have been taken from a 1950s “teach yourself ” book on self-defence. Sometimes the entire configuration of the struggle seems posed or balanced on one leg, which becomes the trunk of a sort of human tree to be found growing in the somewhat melancholy parkland. Arrested in time, these wrestlers become “statues of motion”. Where does the melancholy come from? Perhaps it comes from the fact that the “teach yourself ” book was published so many decades ago. These moments of intimate aggression are long past. Photographs fail to keep moments alive. In fact, because we can date them so easily, a photograph in an old book is redolent of our transience.

Conjunctions of bodies provide the link from one image to the next in La Ronde - the sequence of prints which is also in this show. The title is taken from the play by Arthur Schnitzler, written to demonstrate how venereal disease can be passed from one couple to another. In the play, a lady has an affair with an officer who is having an affair with a maid and so on. These serial relationships lead us back to where the play began. Structures that make use of repetition are at the kernel of much modernist theatre and film. Alain  Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet made use of repetition’s capacity to generate an uncanny rhythm in  L’Année dernière à Marienbad- a film which was in turn inspired by a novella by Adolfo Bioy Casares - The Invention of Morel. In Marienbad, there is a constant reiteration of the same scenes: views of the baroque hotel where the action takes place, a game played with matchsticks, hotel corridors, and enigmatic confrontations between characters rigid with formality. 

A similar rigidity comes into play in these prints by Bidewell. First, a figure is superimposed on another. The latter image is then superimposed on another on the adjacent sheet, and the sequence continues thus, with each single drawing repeated once, until we return to the initial figure. There is a dislocation to these images. They suggest more than they amount to. An image of a tumbling man may be laid over that of a fallen man, but there is a gap between cause and effect. They coincide in a space. But they do not bring about each other’s vicissitude, although they may appear to. Or a naked woman may touch a man, but without intention. Actually she is not touching him. She exists in another time frame, as is clear when we find her in the same pose in the next drawing. In The Invention of Morel, the protagonist discovers that he is in no way synchronised with the people who share the space with him. It is the same for Bidewell’s characters, and this ironic device creates a gap which gets charged with the melancholy detected in the parkland. Perhaps we never “really connect” and are never quite in time with one another.

Anthony Howell, March, 200

Further Images by Dilys Bidewell:

Dilys 1 Turning Man          Dilys image for bank 2          Bidwell image for bank 3         

Turning Man 1                                      Turning Man 2                                      Turning Man 3

<>Bidwell image for bank 4          Bidwell image for bank 5          Bidwewell image for bank 6

Turning Man 4                                      Turning Man 5                                      Turning Man 6


la Ronde 1          la Ronde 2

la Ronde 3          la Ronde 4

la Ronde 5          la Ronde  6

la Ronde 7          la Ronde 8

la Ronde 9          la Ronde 10


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