Watch Out for This Artist: Marc Dennis
May 6, 2014 - NEW YORK, NY
Brooklyn-based artist Marc Dennis was featured in the "25 Artists to Watch" December 2013 issue of MODERN PAINTERS, a renowned art magazine published by Louise Blouin Media, considered the definitive international source of contemporary art and culture. Dennis opened the doors to his studio to MODERN PAINTERS writer Scott Indrisek and talked to him about his latest show "An Artist, A Curator, And A Rabbi Walk Into A Bar. . ." at Hasted Kraeutler in Manhattan. The exhibition comprised a collection of "meta-paintings" -- pictures in pictures, mainly women standing in front of a painting by a famous artist, amongst them Caravaggio, Picasso, and Courbet, causing the viewer to question one's own personal motive and explore the multiple layers of potential meaning and purpose that are hiding within the works.
"The levels, layers, and figures in my work all relate but are also mysteries. They seem familiar; yet it is unclear as to who they are, where they came from, where they're going, or why they are standing in front of a painting, or in any variety of interiors. You could say that my paintings are pseudo-narratives with missing plots. The viewers fill in the blanks," explains Marc Dennis. One example of this effect is "A Great Mystery Of Privacy," 2013, oil on linen, 44×58 inches, in which Dennis depicts what art historians refer to as the "Sick Bacchus" by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, one of Dennis' favorite painters. In front of the Bacchus painting, in what appears to be a private dressing chamber or bedroom, a semi-n*ked woman is bending over to brush her hair, evoking all kinds of questions, ranging from who is the woman?, to how did such an expensive and rare painting end up in a bedroom?, is this woman a private collector?, or why does Bacchus appear much healthier here than in the original painting?
When Indrisek comes across a collection of hair drawings that the artist created with a Japanese brush, Dennis reveals that he has been sketching the backs of people's head for years during all kinds of events, but that he only recently made the connection between those sketches and his recent exhibition. The motive behind it, Dennis explains, is the excitement that comes with the modification of the viewing experience, driven by the question 'Who is this audience that is approaching the same painting I am?'
Marc Dennis' inspiration and motives often reflect seemingly trivial scenarios that only disclose their possibly deeper meaning upon closer examination. Sources for his inspiration can be found in his studio, ranging from an Edgar Allan Poe quote on how "absurd combinations produce humor" to a photograph of Sitting Bull or a puck he caught at the Boston Garden in 1998 which reminds him of the aggressive, intense and sometimes surprising elements that hockey and art have in common. When asked how he decided to become an artist, Dennis replies: "I don't question why I make art. I never had a choice; I never really had to think about it. It's just this urge." His latest urge is driving him to working on a six-part video series on six Holocaust survivors in a collaborative effort with an Israeli filmmaker. He is also working on an app about entomophagy, the practice of eating insects, and naturally on a new body of paintings. Whatever Dennis' next project is, he can be sure that the art world will be watching him.
Marc Dennis website: http://www.marcdennis.com
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