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Hollywood Legends
Hollywood Legends

We are pleased to announce our latest exhibition of original works by Dexter Brown (b.1942) comprising paintings portraying these most enduring of movie icons.

There are certain things in the world of painting that apply to cinema
David Lynch

The rich, as the saying has it, are different, yet it is the famous who are really different. "I'm going to be a great movie star someday" declared Marilyn Monroe. "Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting" said Steve McQueen, adding famously, "I'm not sure that acting is something for a grown man to be doing". Both these all-American superstars in particular put their personal mark on what is known as the seventh art. Now Dexter Brown's Marilyn & McQueen: Hollywood Legends retrieves the memory and the glamour of Hollywood's incomparable screen legends.

Born in London in 1942, Dexter Brown studied at Harrow School of Art where he was taught by, among others, Royal Academicians Ken Howard and Fred Cuming. His first solo exhibition was held in the US in 1967 and his work has since been regularly exhibited throughout Europe with singular success. This latest exhibition, Marilyn & McQueen: Hollywood Legends is a reminder of the long-standing association between painting and the cinema.

"Film has always been a medium I have found a link with" says Dexter. "I'm certainly content as a painter but would have loved to have worked behind the scenes in a film studio - on lighting or sound, maybe even operating a camera". Oscar Wilde delivered himself of the opinion that "every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist" and for Dexter Brown portraiture has been "a constant fascination". He focused on portrait commissions for nearly a decade, meeting the challenge of "capturing the essence of someone, yet never simply copying their features".

"Marilyn Monroe has featured in my paintings before" said Dexter Brown, "but this exhibition provides the opportunity to convey strongly her exceptional contribution to the cinematic medium". Among the artist's favourite movie-going moments are "waiting for the celebrated shot of her billowing dress in The Seven Year Itch" and the abiding memory of "the magic of black and white" in the fun and frisky Some Like it Hot. The emotional calling of The Misfits reduced a girlfriend to tears, Dexter remembers.

"At the start of the 1960s I went to see Yul Brynner in The Magnificent Seven" he recalled, "but it was Steve McQueen's performance that proved the more captivating". The Great Escape ("Christmas TV is not the same without a showing"), The Thomas Crown Affair ("those split screens showing simultaneous action") and Bullitt ("the audience applause at the end of the car chase") and Le Mans ("wonderful photography") are equally admired by the artist.

"Pictures were made for both of them" said Dexter Brown, and his canvasses illustrate perfectly their stellar appeal for generations of cinema-goers for whom, quoting French film maker Jean-Luc Godard, "Truth at 24 frames a second" is a reality. The visual image is the common denominator in painting and cinema and the former is one of the many forms of expression that an artist can bring to bear to illuminate the past. Dexter Brown's typically perceptive filmic interpretations are sure to prompt another wave of interest in two of the greatest and genuinely unforgettable names in world cinema.

And, like his central subjects in Marilyn & McQueen: Hollywood Legends, Dexter Brown's distinctive style and consummate skill, lauded for almost five decades and meriting a strong following, will continue to reward audiences in the years ahead.

Simon Khachadourian
London, 2009

Location: Pullman Gallery, 94 Pimlico Road, London SW1W 8PL.

Dates: 16th October - 28th November 2009 (open Tuesday - Saturdays).
Opening Hours: 10.00 am - 6.00 pm.

The hard copy, 64-page catalogue is now available, price £25.00 plus p&p. For further information contact Rachel Kelly on +44 (0)20 7930 9595 or via email rachel@pullmangallery.com.