24 November – 19 December 2021

Chris Dolman

The door is ajar, The exit a dead end

The door is ajar,  the exit a dead-end
You are looking out the front window of a two-storey Victorian terrace
eating corn chips, drinking a can of beer.

Outside, trees dance against a pale yellow canvas, limbs akimbo
The sound of their creaking skin so close to the chips in your mouth that you stop chewing for a moment just to hear the difference. 

The sky is smoking. 

It creeps in from under the windowsill and in-between the carpet snakes meant to keep the draft and rats out, searching through the house like silent foggy fingers. 

You like the smell, sweet and nostalgic. But know it’s not a good sign.

It’s getting dark inside. You turn the Living room light on and the bulbs blink, tick and click, like imperfect metronomes. 


Click tick

Tick click tick

With the lights on, your reflection appears close in the window like a ghost. A familiar face staring back at you; pale, bald, deep creases, sunken eyes. 

You turn the lights off again and the apparition vanishes from sight. But it’s still there also, always.

Turning from the window you walk into the living room where the TV is on. No picture, just a neon yellow light box. The glow throws yellow onto everything in the room. It’s like your own private James Turrell. 

You sit on the couch and shut your eyes. The yellow light still seen through thin eyelids, you pretend it’s the light of the sun, far enough away that it’s not too hot, but still radiating a warmth that envelops you. This is about as close as you ever get to meditating. Breathing deeply and focusing on the yellow light, you begin to see an image of a door. 

The door is ajar.

You are sitting on a chair in an empty room staring at a canvas. 

Smoke drifts in through the door, a cockroach scurries across the wall, try as you might, you just can’t seem to think of what to do next. You are an artist with a severe case of creative block. Every idea a dead-end. On the canvas a yellow Post It note, on it written in pencil are the words, “Don’t give up.” This gives you an idea. Finally. The best idea you’ve had in a long while. Maybe the only idea. You know what to do now.

With a small paintbrush you walk to the canvas, and with green paint from a nearby tube, you cross out the word Don’t.

Chris Dolman (b. 1977) is a Sydney based artist whose practice is primarily centred on self–portraiture imbued with a mix of sincerity and ironic humour. In 2019 Dolman was awarded the Fauvette Loureiro Memorial Artists Travel Scholarship for his installation The Sun is Setting, at SCA Galleries. In 2017 he was awarded the AGNSW Dyason Bequest, and received New Work and ArtStart grants from the Australia Council for the Arts. Dolman is currently a 2021 Studio Artist at Parramatta Artist Studios, following a residency at Artspace, Sydney. He has also undertaken international residencies at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, Villa Belleville, Paris, and Frans Masereel Centrum, Belgium. Dolman’s work is held in the public collections of Gippsland Art Gallery, Artbank, and Bathurst Regional Art Gallery.

Artwork images by Felipe Olivares and Garry Trinh

Installation images by Docqment


Chris Dolman
Chased and Debased 2021
oil and pencil on canvas
120 × 85 cm

Chris Dolman
Find your inner balance 2021
oil and pencil on canvas
125 × 90 cm

Chris Dolman
Hide and Seek 2021
oil and pencil on canvas
120 × 85.5 cm

Chris Dolman
Bloody Bangers 2021
coloured glass, copper foil, solder, lead, and patina
25 × 16 cm

Chris Dolman
Spaghetti Guillotine 2021
acrylic and enamel on MDF and timber, oil on canvas, coloured glass, ceramics
137 × 73 × 23 cm

Chris Dolman
Lather 2021
coloured glass, copper foil, solder, lead, and patina
25 × 15.5 cm

Chris Dolman
Only Passing Through 2021
welded steel, spray enamel, ceramics, coloured glass, stained timber
236 × 175 × 120 cm

Chris Dolman
Feeling Flat 2021
55 × 55 cm

Chris Dolman
Smokey Boots 2021
oil and pencil on canvas
46 × 35.5 cm

Chris Dolman
Smoking Ciggie 2021
coloured glass, copper foil, solder, lead, and patina
33 × 18 cm

Chris Dolman
Wish you were here 2021
oil and pencil on canvas
183 × 137 cm

Chris Dolman
A Heavy Weight 2021
coloured glass, copper foil, solder, lead, and patina
23 × 15.5 cm