Hotel Pennsylvania: portrait of Dawn and Brian, 2017

Hotel Pennsylvania: portrait of Dawn and Brian, 2017

Brian Dawn Chalkley is a London based artist whose work is an ongoing discussion of gender, sexuality and identity. His work is based around two characters, Brian and his transvestite personality, Dawn.

When I saw Brian’s room in Hotel Pennsylvania, it reminded me of a painting by Edward Hopper of a woman sitting desolately on the edge of her bed in a hotel room and pictured Brian sitting on the edge of his bed looking at the camera while Dawn watches him.

Brian Dawn Chalkley is the sum of Brian and Dawn, yet one cannot experience them both at the same time. I am working on an ongoing series of double portraits of Brian and Dawn where I get them to interact like actors would in CGI films. I then stitch them together in Photoshop and print them as Silver Gelatin prints (by printing the digital image as a negative on film and then making a contact print on photographic paper).

Apart from the fact that I love the quality of Silver Gelatin prints, the reason why I make the final image as an “analog” print is because when you look at a digital photo, either inkjet printed or on screen, if something doesn’t look quite right, you always think that it might have been Photoshopped. When you hold a darkroom printed photograph you tend to believe its veracity.

Although I am using Photoshop trickery, this combined portrait is a more accurate reflection of who Brian Dawn Chalkley is than photos of them taken individually.