Opera Gallery, New York
Closes Thursday, November 3rd 2016
By NOAH BECKER, NOV. 2016
Andy Denzler (born 1965, Zurich, Switzerland), is a painter that art enthusiasts around the world follow with great attention. Arousing the interest of international curators, collectors and art lovers is not an easy task. Artists like Andy Denzler, Peter Doig, Gerhard Richter and a select group of others are part of a small number of living painters attracting this kind of widespread attention in the art world on an ongoing basis.
Denzler’s work has excited the curiosity and interest of major art dealers, art collectors and artists and garnered significant praise from top writers and critics. Denzler’s paintings have a unique palette of ochres, browns, blacks, flesh tones and grays, that make them readable and naturalistic images infused with energy. Over the past decade the international popularity of his work has grown to the point where he regularly shows in the best galleries and museums.
Recently there have been surveys retrospectives of his work at institutions such as Ludwig Museum, Koblenz and Kunsthalle, Dresden, along with solo exhibitions at numerous galleries. In this way and with his schedule of regular exhibitions Denzler has been pressing forward with his career and is quickly securing a place in the story of art as one of his generation’s foremost artists.
Denzler pushes and pulls, scrapes and manipulates his surfaces with ease. There is no contemporary painter artist currently moving paint around with his kind of ambition, fluidity and accuracy. Working strong and consistent in his Zurich studio, Denzler paints pictures of faces and figures, still life arrangements, landscapes and interior scenes that can take your breath away, specifically by the way in which they are painted.
He is not afraid of thick paint and knows when and how to bring his surfaces down to thin layers or up to thicker one. In addition, Denzler has given specific attention to detail when it comes to the quality of the materials he uses. This attention to the characteristics of craftsmanship makes seeing a Denzler work in the flesh a much different experience than viewing a photo of it. Specific weaves of linen, fine brushes and custom frames are used, keeping his studio practice at the highest level.
His colors are generally in the area of flesh tones, greens, umber and those colors that suggest the natural world – as opposed to the acid yellows and shocking pinks of the pop world which are not present in Denzler’s paintings. Instead he focuses on the quiet colors of nature, gatherings of friends in a scene or an introspective moment shared. In this sense his paintings have a feeling of longing and a documentarian aspect as opposed to the flash and glare of the Hollywood scene or the online chaos of social media.
Andy Warhol was similarily interested in making the mundane aspects of daily life into something monumental. And yet he dived into the world of celebrity after engaging with the more ordinary aspects of life. If there is a parallel between Denzler and Warhol it is the filmic quality of Denzler’s paintings and a connection to iconic photographic imagery.
Denzler’s paintings hover on the edge of painterly and cinematic recognition but transcend basic mimesis. The way in which he fractures, pulls and blurs imagery and brings life to the subjects of his work release the paintings and sculptures liberate from a mimetic approach to copying from the photograph and introduce them quickly into the painterly realm. In this sense it is almost as though Denzler was a filmmaker using oil paint to express the motion, edits and imperfections of the film medium.
Denzler knows that the special treatment of images can transform the ordinary and give new life to otherwise familiar situations, much like a filmmaker would consider his craft in terms of time and space. There is also a connection to video work and vintage VHS electronics referenced in his sculptures and paintings. As the viewer of a Denzler painting, we feel somewhat like a voyeur or dreamer, floating through a situation. Denzler’s distorted and motion activated scenarios challenge us to hold onto those elements we recognize as human or recognize as stable aspects of what we perceive to be real.
It is a human tendency to gravitate towards recognition or visually attach to objects or things that relate to our basic perception of reality. Denzler scrambles our signals of recognition and leaves our perception in constant play. One can almost hear conversations or the sounds in his paintings like in the work “High Fidelity”. It is because the motion and the blurring and the fracturing of imagery bring out associations in our minds through accidental and instantaneous memories. Denzler’s paintings seem to get more ambitious with each show and this exhibition is no exception.
His subjects are ordinary though and come from everyday life; a friend standing in a room, a vase of flowers on a table or a grouping of young professionals standing in eroded architecture. Through these figurative explorations, Denzler has found a seamless way of evoking the feeling of photography in painting without ever relying on photorealism to evoke the illusion of reality in two and three dimensions. His works are on New York scale but also have a European aspect to them. His work has the feeling of abstract expressionism but at the same time connects to the tradition of painting from the Renaissance to the present.
Denzler’s new series of paintings and sculptures continue his groundbreaking interest in forms and materials and in how forms and figures glitch-out or exist within dramatic motion. In the paintings, movement is more of a concern to Denzler than gestures. Negative space is important to the paintings and to the sculptures and what is interesting is how the figure remains throughout a composition, no matter what the level of distortion, glitch or motion is imposed on the subject. An extremely active environment is created in Andy Denzler’s paintings, where scenarios and figures exist in stillness and motion. WM
Noah Becker is an artist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine. He shows his paintings internationally at museums and galleries. Becker also plays jazz saxophone. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010). Becker's new album of original music "Mode For Noah" was released in 2023.
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