Andy Denzler: Between Here and There
Opera Gallery, London
May 4 - 20, 2016
By NOAH BECKER, APR 2016
Andy Denzler (born 1965, Zurich, CH, lives and works in Zurich, CH) created a new series of oil paintings on canvas for his London solo exhibition entitled Between Here and There. The paintings are about young urban creatives living and working internationally — friends and associates of the artist such as actors, artists and models pursuing the urban dream. The paintings are about the romantic idea of a creative existence in a city or town. People surrounded by the decay of buildings with peeling wallpaper symbolic of a transitory way of living. Young artists captured during the search for their own identity in a fast paced world. These are restless youth, thrown back and forth between here and there, captured in an intimate moment. The subjects of his paintings are seen in settings like hotels or their own private universe between rural and suburban life. These are people who live away from perfectionism and high-gloss aesthetics of the modern world. Denzler paints these figures and scenes in panoramic format.
The idea of the figures being young urban creatives permeates his painterly settings and retains a freshness that transcends simple mimesis or verbatim copying of an image to canvas. Utilizing his personal history and technical expertise to full effect, Denzler integrates knowledge from a new media and computer graphics background and colors inspired by old dusty polaroids and an interest in the abstract expressionist movement of the 1950s.
Denzler has found his own path away from the abstract colors but his brushwork has retained an expressionist edge. Rich browns and grays inhabit his color schemes enhancing the transparencies and textures of these layered works. Never dull, his naturalistic palette is similar to the colors used in his earlier pure abstractions, but the energetic treatment of painterly surfaces is not an entirely abstract experience for Denzler. He often plays with the psychological effects of time and space as it pertains to photography's capturing of reality. “Time is of the essence of my process and content in my paintings.”
The trace of time is evident and the paintings are layered, broken, blurred, distorted and scraped in different ways in real time whilst retaining a ghost of the original source image. Denzler takes photos before selecting which to use for the paintings. His photos could easily stand-alone as works of photographic art but these images are used primarily as images for the paintings. Denzler’s paintings are born of these photos but through working the paintings in specific ways, his images are radically transformed into layers of paint. Part of this transformation is how Denzler’s visual logic is worked into his imagery and with what force. He reminds the viewer through layer and brushstroke, of how older technology like an old VCR tape image, or interference from a satellite video signal or the non-digital television monitors of an earlier era would deliver images to the eye. This idea of broken visual signals is expressed through his treatment of surface and his expression of imagery passing through the window of time.
“Taking and composing photos opens up possibilities to engage with mass media.” Denzler says. His own source materials are of contemporary figures in modern settings yet treated with his specific approach to photographing a model in a setting. Photography also played an important role in the production of pop art - a historical link that Denzler has not overlooked. The pop sensibility Denzler touches upon when swiping, blurring or texturing a painting brings his work closer to the pop art realm but his color sense betrays the candy colors associated with pop.
Denzler’s sculptures have the feeling of something very modern but through his process of adding distortion and motion to the forms they become frozen in time like figures from Pompeii pushed, pulled and distorted by circumstance – it is the combination of something very modern yet ancient. One of Denzler’s sculptures portrays a standing female figure holding a smart phone in her hand, as one would do when taking a digital photo. This gesture of common photo taking is relevant to our times as every person holds a digital camera in their smart phone - a new human gesture has become eternal. In this way Denzler is dealing with the everyday and the ordinary - a routine or gesture society has added to its lexicon.
In Andy Denzler’s work there is a rippling effect and deliberate distortion that runs through the sculptures and the paintings - a certain electricity. A three dimensional logic is at work that transcends the surface texture and glitch. These breaks in the image have an association to digital imagery and magnetic forces but in our age digital media transmits a normally flawless signal. Indeed the act of looking at something with the human eye is usually free of these interruptions in signal. It is a way of reminding the viewer that reality can be seen though alternate delivery systems and alternate lenses. WM
Noah Becker shows his art internationally. A visual artist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine, Becker has also written freelance articles for The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post and contributed texts to major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker also directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010) viewable on Youtube.
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