Marc Dennis | Storyteller
Artist Reception, Saturday, Oct. 21, 3:00-6:00pm
Marc Dennis is a Brooklyn-based artist known for his hyper-realistic paintings that spotlight the subversive potential of beauty and the gaze. His work marries styles and techniques from art historical movements to motifs from pop and contemporary culture. His provocative mash-ups employ irony to pose questions around taste, value, representation, and artistic pedigree.
Dennis’ works are in many prominent private collections including those of John and Amy Phelan, Beth Dewoody, Glenn Fuhrman, and Bill and Maria Bell. His paintings can also be found in the permanent collections of The Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach, FL; The JP Morgan Chase Art Collection, New York; The Neuberger Berman Collection, New York; The UBS Corporate Art Collection, Zurich, Switzerland; The Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin; and The MIN Art Museum, Guadalajara, Mexico among others.
In Storyteller, Dennis explores personal mythologies and creation stories from other societies that have shaped his worldview. He reimagines the visual cues found in myriad stories across cultures and continents as well as his Jewish heritage, lending the show an ethereal quality full of transformative, imaginative possibilities.
In this new body of work, Dennis probes stories of good and evil, love and loss, ceremony and ritual, and beauty and wonder – each painting telling a story without a specific beginning, middle, or end. In doing such, he portrays lush backgrounds juxtaposed against spiritual and metaphysical references. Through his art he asks visitors to consider the back and forth between the imagined, the believed, and the natural universe we inhabit.
Works like America, The Myth of the Alpha Male or When the Animals Know draw from Dennis’s personal journeys, ranging from accidentally starting a forest fire at age 7 and his days as a middle-schooler camping in the El Yunque rainforest in Puerto Rico to getting lost in the forests of upstate New York after his Bar Mitzvah. Artistic inspiration comes from Dennis spending days and nights alone in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona during college, climbing Mount Masada looming over the Dead Sea in Israel, and riding a camel across the Sahara Desert in Egypt to sleeping overnight at Enchanted Rock in Central Texas, camping along the Niobrara River on the prairies of western Nebraska, and spending three grueling weeks trekking uncharted animal trails in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Last but not least, Dennis references his highly influential post-college days living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Wanblee, South Dakota on the property of Richard Moves Camp, a Wicasa Wakan or Holy Man of the Oglála Lakȟóta.
By merging 19th-century traditional American Western painting, Lakȟóta oral traditions, and Jewish mysticism, his fantastical imagination, and other life experiences, Dennis creates a very personal picture book of rich, visual stories with ambiguous narratives and metaphysical inquiry.
Dennis relays, “I approached each painting for this show much in the manner I approach walking in the forest or along a mountain trail, riding across a desert on horseback, or exploring the edge of a pond – being open to everything and anything, thinking about how it all became and what it all means.”