David Dawson


Born in 1960 near Pwllheli, North Wales, Dawson studied at the Chelsea School of Art followed by the Royal College of Art where he considered himself almost exclusively a painter. Soon after graduating, Dawson met Lucien Freud and became his studio assistant, model and trusted confidante. It was during his time as Freud’s assistant that Dawson began exploring photography, capturing Freud at work in the studio. These photographs were later exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in 2004, with the National Portrait Gallery acquiring 26 of them, including images of Freud painting David Hockney and Queen Elizabeth II. Dawson’s photographs have been exhibited across the globe including London, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Caracas and Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart. Dawson worked with Freud until his death in 2011 and has since co-authored Phiadon’s Lucien Freud (2018) and been elected the Director of the Lucien Freud Archive. Dawson won the 2019 Ruth Borchard Self-portrait Prize with his work, Looking at Self Reflection. Looking at Self Reflection (2019) sees Dawson’s interest in the figurative move from the camera to the canvas. Dawson’s swift and powerful brush strokes render a strident depiction of the artist at work. Dawson appears to stare beyond the frame at his viewer, engaging his audience in the action of self-depiction. This portrait marks a departure in subject matter from Dawson’s predominantly urban paintings, adapting the powerful linear brushstrokes that define his architectural paintings to his own anatomy.