Few emerging talents get the chance to showcase their work quite like this. As her paintings illuminate Oxford Street, Andy Jones speaks to 23-year old artist Georgia Dymock.
Anyone walking up Oxford Street this month can’t help but see – beamed down from 150ft high screens on the exterior of Flannels fashion store – an art work of a voluptuous lady holding a red telephone. The paintings’ strong, art-deco 1920’s vibe provides an amusing antidote to the stick-thin, pouting models that you see on other shopping district billboards. It somehow manages to look entirely out of place yet confident and purposeful in its new surroundings.
Below the giant screens, if shoppers see a young woman stood at street level looking entirely overawed and quietly pleased with herself, it could well be Georgia Dymock, a 23 year old from Derby, who painted the image. Her career as a painter only began in earnest three years ago, yet she has already sold out her first Mayfair show with works going for over £20,000 a time. The store-high cherry atop of this cake is that, a selection of her works – like ‘Girl with Phone’ above – are also being beamed down on shoppers as part of the W1 Curates series which celebrates new London artists.
Georgia admits she has suddenly been finding plenty of excuses to hit the shops. She says, “I have walked past Flannels a few times and each time I have to take a picture of it. I didn’t tell any strangers in the street it was mine, but I have dragged my friends down to see it. I think it’s such an innovative place for artwork to exist.”
“Matisse and de Lempicka reimagined with a digital twist”
As well as attracting attention from late-night shoppers and twenty-somethings looking to use the image as an Insta background, Georgia’s work has also got Sotheby’s art historian Dr David Bellingham swooning. He says, “The first time I saw Georgia’s work, apart from Matisse, I was reminded of Polish-born Tamara de Lempicka, whose painted portraits of aristocratic and well-heeled women have the same cultivated, leisured poses as Georgia’s.”
If the works within Georgia’s show ‘Under Our Together,’ seem to be especially vivid that is because Georgia’s works start with manual sketches transposed into Photoshop and Illustrator digital software which is then manipulated and translated back into the analogue world of paint on canvas. Dr. Bellingham also highlights her blending sand into her paints creates a scratchy, retro feel. He says, “Her work not only produces a visual illusion of a grainy vintage TV screen or a pixelated contemporary plasma iteration, but is also a more satisfying, stubbly ground to paint on. This constant movement in and out of physical and virtual worlds is what makes Georgia’s work so intellectually and visually stimulating.”
Georgia’s imaginings of the female forms are quite anti the high filtered images of social media. “I want to reimagine the body in our post-digital world,” she says. “The normal nature and reality of a body is continuously brought into question in the online space. I am interested in the ‘imperfections’ that come through the labour of the process, where the paint gathers and hairs of the brush sit on the canvas.”
“Raspberry pink, gender-fluid, Rubenesque flesh”
The joyously plump shape-shifting forms in Georgia’s works are stripped of traditional gender signifiers and examine society’s discussions on gender fluidity. The result reveals luminous feminine shapes, each similarly fleshy and boneless, whose tubular limbs bend into impossible cuboid shapes. They are lifted by multi-layered, asymmetric backgrounds of tulips, grapes or dizzying chevrons, creating an experience where, just as the mind settles and defines each shape, you are quickly shown they are actually something else.
Several of the works appear at first sight to be be two or three figures intertwined before revealing themselves to be a union of various disowned and disjointed parts. Dr. Bellingham, writing the programme notes for Georgia’s shows celebrates the merry mayhem of “raspberry pink, Rubenesque flesh,” and a “playful and eye-catching choreography of the (figures’) fingers.”
Her talent was spotted when a collector bought one of her works on sight and then took it into Jean-David Malat’s Mayfair art gallery. Malat, who specialises in discovering and celebrating new contemporary artists, immediately signed her up with several other galleries also circling. Georgia then spent the next two months producing another dozen works in order to complete the show. As quickly as she was producing the work they were being sold.
Georgia’s rise is all the remarkable since her graduate diploma at Chelsea College of Art – a programme designed for those who want to pursue a career in art but only have a non-arts degree – was halted by Covid, meaning she was sent home to the Peak District instead of being on campus in London. Many students suddenly cut from the creative petri dish of campuses and tutoring can see their creativity die on the vine, but for Georgia being sent home gave her a cocoon to devote herself to her work.
For Georgia all the anxiety came from producing the work in time for the show rather than people critiquing it. “When I am painting, that is where I feel the strong emotion, a sense of anxiety. This painting takes over my life then for a few weeks and that’s the only thing I can do, dream or think about it. Now, when it’s done, I can just let it out into the world and let other people respond to it.”
“Are you only an artist if you make money from art?”
While Georgia describes always being excited by art – she describes visiting the National Gallery aged 8 and frantically painting for weeks afterwards – she held personal doubts about whether she could turn her personal obsession into a professional one.
“When you say, “I want to be an artist,” it feels a risky thing to say,” she says. “At school if you were good at science or maths or English that is encouraged, but if you are good at art, it’s almost the opposite.”
Part of Georgia’s switch to art, was completing a degree which took her almost in another direction. Having studied anthropology at UCL, before she did her post-graduate, what became really informative to her art was the work of Andre Leroi-Gourhan, who breaks down how a single thing comes into being. That is an essential part of painting, says Georgia.
“It made me stop looking at a painting as just an image, and instead look at the labour and and stages that go into it. Nowadays we live in such an image-driven culture and you see a surface and get excited about it. But what really is that surface, what is that painting?”
Georgia admits she has never really considered herself an artist until the last few months when she was creating to a deadline. “When are you an artist?,” she asks. “Are you only an artist when you make money from art, or teach it or make it every day?”
Now, there can be no doubt, as all her works hang in one show. “I have never seen them all my works hung in one space before. To see them all on the walls together, it’s completely overwhelming.”
She had better enjoy it fast. Now they have all been bought, her works won’t be in one place for long. That is, unless you walk along Oxford Street.
Georgia Dymock’s debut show ‘Under Our Together’ runs at JD Malat gallery, Mayfair until April 9th.