« Anchored in a hazy realism and marked by a mute expressivity, Stevie Dix's early works offered numerous ways of presenting herself to the world. Like the wedged boots, both subject and object, treading on a fogged over post-industrial asphalt in The nearer the ground, the louder it sounds, her first exhibition at the GALERIE CHLOE SALGADO in spring 2020. The quest for the self, for a self, appeared to be closely linked to a logic of distinction: how to create a singularity from the cultural fragments present. Distinction, then, in the sense of the uses that consumer-producers make of mass consumption goods, inventing their own personal « tactics »1 for reappropriating the goods, spaces and signs that are imposed on them.
For Stevie Dix, accessories, clothing and other everyday objects through which individuals perform the quest for a role in the public spotlight have never simply served as a metonymic referent. Indeed, there is the question of the adolescent quest to define oneself: troubled and violent, introspective and flamboyant, the one that eludes language by belching with spurts of impasto on the canvas. But it is also about a deeper ontological quest, and the pictorial negotiation of spaces and of appearance themselves. The logic of the fragment, the close-up and repetition coupled with the absence of the human figure as well as the monofocal perspective had until now constituted the painter's preferred procedures. These reflect the loss of anchorage in a world where collective horizons evade and centres elude – the « abstract spaces »2 of a world reduced to its flatness, framed by the circulation of capital.
Besides Ourselves, Stevie Dix’s new exhibition at the gallery builds on this feeling while moving it towards a more active search for an embodied perspective. Here, the figure returns in the form of hieratic, frontal faces, as well as angular profiles and static silhouettes, whilst the pictorial space itself becomes more complex to encompass the coexistence of multiple planes, spaces and environments. These female characters, who also represent a transtemporal auto-fictional genealogy – the artist, her mother and her grandmother – are all observers whose point of view defines a new centre. They are the subjects of the gaze, yet of a mediated gaze: whether it is carried from the inside to the outside, or in the opposite direction, the motif of the window creates a partition between the intimate space and the public space, to the point of sometimes becoming autonomous by replacing the accessories for presenting oneself.
The interior space is the studio: a room of one’s own, a fragile heterotopy where the laws of social performance are suspended temporarily, allowing the expression of an interiority as fleeting and flickering as the golden light that faintly streams in from the windows. The logic of distinction is then succeeded by that of individuation, as defined by Marielle Macé : « Anonymous singularities, fragile moments of an individual, which imply first and foremost a non-superposition, a tension, a debate between beings and the styles that run through them, that animate them without defining them in their own right, and that can also leave them ».3 From Stevie Dix's pictorial system and her attention to aspects of ordinary experiences, a redistribution of the dichotomies between capitalism of forms and subaltern scripts, and more broadly, of the political and the personal, is thus suggested.
What is at stake is the expression of a sociality of emotions, joining, responding to and updating from the field of the visible the exploration undertaken by a line of thinkers – from Lauren Berlant to Sara Ahmed – who have set out to think of emotions as generating « the very effect of the surfaces and boundaries that allow us to distinguish an inside and an outside in the first place ».4 And if we contemporary living beings share the insidious feeling of being off-centre, Stevie Dix endows this floating affect with her forms: a prolegomena not to a recentering, but to a materialisation of the multiple non-hegemonic ways of being both outside the common and in search of ourselves.5 »
Translation by Katia Porro
1 Michel de Certeau, L’Invention du quotidien, 1. : Arts de faire et 2. : Habiter, cuisiner, Paris : Gallimard, 1990 (1re ed. 1980).
2 Henri Lefebvre, La production de l’espace, Paris : Anthropos, « Ethnosociologie », 4e ed., 2000.
3 Marielle Macé, Styles. Critique de nos formes de vie, Paris : Gallimard, « Nrf essais », 2016, p. 205.
4 Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, New York : Routledge, 2004, p. 10.
5 This could be one interpretation of the exhibition’s polysemic title.
After growing up in Genk, Belgium, Stevie Dix (1990) moved to London in 2010, and participated in the Turps Art School Correspondence Course (2016-2017), tutored by artist Phil King. She then moved to Suffolk, where she stayed for a few years, before returning to Genk in 2020, where she is currently based.
Stevie Dix’s oils on canvas are heavy and thick, and composed in a personal language where figures and objects, arranged in minimalistic compositions, are elevated to symbols and metaphors for intimate feelings.
Her work often looks back to a period of her late adolescence spent in Genk. Feeling ‘stuck’ in this small, ex-industrial town, Dix spent a lot of her days in her mother’s studio learning to make her own clothes and to draw and paint. By translating introspection into a coming-of-age theme, she aims to hit a universal nerve.
She presented her first solo exhibition, La Mauvaise Réputation, in 2016 at the Collectiv National gallery in Antwerp. The following year, in 2017, after a solo exhibition in London, England I Love You, But You're Brining Me Down at Rob Barton Gallery; she presents two solo exhibitions in the USA: Conceived In El Coyote, at The Cabin, Los Angeles, and Tennis Elbow, at The Journal Gallery, New York City. In 2018, she presents two more solo exhibitions: Désert, at Nevven Gallery, Gothenburg, Sweden, and The Devil's In The Details, at L21 Gallery, Palma de Mallorca, Spain. In 2020, she presents her first solo exhibition in France: The Nearer The Ground, The Louder It Sounds, at GALERIE CHLOE SALGADO; as well as Belgian Techno, her second exhibition at Nevven Gallery in Gothenburg. In 2021, she presents two new solo exhibitions: Sad Girl Surrealism, her second exhibition at L21 Gallery in Palma de Mallorca; and Magnesium at Hannah Barry Gallery in London. In the first half of 2022, she presents Tennis Elbow 96, her second exhibition at The Journal Gallery, New York City.
Beside ourselves is Stevie Dix's 12th solo exhibition, in the span of only 6 years, and at just 32 years old.