Dermot Punnett



Dermot’s work oscillates between painting as image and painting as a material process. He is concerned with the tension that exists between the illusion and the surface. Working from personal photography and found images, Punnett utilises the effects of reproduction and pixilation on a painterly aesthetic.

He starts by painting the image in a representational manner, then apply dragging techniques, pushing and pulling the paint and causing ruptures in the image. Within this he use geometrical abstractions, playing on a sense of entropy and order; the impermanence of form, but also the crystalline nature of its emergence. Through this process the artist tries to understand and internalise perception and experience, whilst reflecting on a sense of modern day anxiety.

Borders are anxious, yet their lines of differentiation still stand strong, demarcating history, geography and body. As digital networks allow greater access past some, they reinforce isolation in others, quantifying the lines of distance one often experiences from themselves and whatever they consider their source. This is at the heart of Dermot Punnett’s soft and vagrant paintings. One becomes lost within a dreamy landscape; our world exponentially removed from its origin, clinging to the matrixes of architectural marks. Punnett’s honesty is startling, his genuine inquisition endearing. His relationship to source, to the miry landscapes of past and memory are equally dislocated and errant – appearing through one of the oldest, and often most contentious mediums of art, painting.

I have become interested in Islamic geometry and the way it is used to convey a sense of the infinite. Form is enfolded and unfolds from the infinite. Geometry is like a blue print; it creates a structured space in which from unfolds.

These haunting, ghosted memories fade into alien landscapes as the familiar dissolves into abstract sourced notions to be observed, marketed and traded across the now vast digital networks. What emerges out of Punnett’s early work is a manifestation of the conditions that haunt the subject of migration and communities of the diaspora in the twenty first century. Being born in St. Vincent, raised in Barbados and currently residing in the United Kingdom, Punnett himself is no stranger to ideas of movement, location and home. These tensions become extrapolated even further by the presence of digital media, recreating the myth of ‘home’ through vast image banks while congruently fixing complex identities into a single vernacular of digital commodity. Painting for Punnett becomes the source of potential and surprise, imbuing a sense of wonder once more into his voyage of self-inquiry. It finds a way to constantly restructure its own complex history; not for means of wry critique, but to serve as a foundation from which a wholly new un-fixed narrative may develop.