Grand Foyer, 72" X 72", Acrylic & oil pastel on framed canvas, 2014
Many of Dixon’s smaller portraits or still-lifes re-appear in the well-appointed rooms of his larger works. Nested inside one another, the paintings admit their likely destination as decoration. They acknowledge richness’ cumulative aspect in the way that individual collectors can, as Chris Kraus writes, “have absolutely nothing to say about art history or curatorial practice, but [...] tell us everything about [their] belief in the force of artistic transmission.” And they provide an important window into Dixon’s central idea that even the most subtle change in context can shift a meaning, or at least a reading.
Dixon’s canonical fixation bears resemblance to Jay-Z’s 2013 ‘Picasso Baby,’ where Hova cites every big name in his collection like he’s personally doing the paperwork to qualify as an Art Basel VIP. At the time of the release of Magna Carta Holy Grail, reviewers — of the generation subscribed to what Dixon calls the “guilt-ridden model of viewing the actualization of one's desire as a weakness or a character flaw” — were wary of this happily apolitical view from the top. More than a few leaned on Jay-Z’s own tired line as a sardonic reminder: “I’m not a businessman — I’m a business, man.” Similarly, Dixon loses no sleep over playing the game. The art market is the art world’s most essential and most contentious facet. Peel back the referential layers to glimpse Dixon’s true subject matter: his role in that irregular and unregulated structure. His postmodern non-interest in either vilifying or reifying luxury cooly transmutes its weirdness.