Dana Bentley. New Works.

Apr 21, 2011 - May 15, 2011

Dana Bentley's Pictographic Paintings

"Dana Bentley's large scale mixed media paintings evolved out of a wide ranging visual arts background that has included making relief object paintings out of expandable foam, taxidermists real life animals such as deer, fox, beaver. The act of building up shapes to create a 3-dimensional sense while continuing to paint over the found objects, branches, and various enigmatic life forms, made these works closer to Rauschenberg's act of painting in multi-media than to the pure painterly formalism.

As technology has advanced the language of art, artists like Dana Bentley have transferred their curiosity, and instinct for exploration to screen-based composition. The use of Photoshop has enabled the artist to weave together, and build visual counterpoint using a combination of drawings, paintings, photographs, and web-based images. Images are printed, reflected on, to then be altered, scaled up or down, combined. Scale can be expanded, as with a small six by eight inch drawing, to become thirty six by twenty four inches in size without any visible distortion from pixilation. Using an Epsom printer and Ultrachrome K3 lightfast inks Dana Bentley achieves a resonance that as he comments is "influenced by everything". Among the artistic influences he zooms in on Phillip Guston and Paul Wunderlich, to name two. The painting Red Green, for instance with its painted lettering built into the composition recalls Guston's ingenious sense of play. The act of composition is less about abstraction than developing an implied narrative. I Had Too Much to Dream interweaves pure colour fragments with simplified figurative representations and an intricate build up of undulating, or fixed lines. Screen patterns also are part of the visual vernacular Bentley invents as he goes along. As Bentley says in referring to his process, "The story discovers itself."

Using Zeiss lenses and a Nikon digital camera, Bentley uses photographic images like an archaeologist would found objects from his travels in South America and Asia. These photo images become fodder for his compositions. Often twenty to thirty elements can be combined in a single salad bowl of composition, and the elements vary from photo-based, to drawing, to painting. Reconfigured is a wide range of ways, Bentley's visual devices act as object in three-dimensional space, though that space becomes one that exists as a floating collage of combinatory visual experiences.

Animated, and transferred to canvas, Bentley's multi-layered works of art, are then acted on again as painting brings a textural immediacy to the finished work of art. The feeling of the line, when added to the digital ink jet imagery gives them an iconic aura of controlled yet humanistic chaos worthy of Hieronymus Bosch, for there is always an implied narrative. Bentley maintains a sense of space and the tension exists between the maximal "loading" of various colour, design, figurative, and texted elements in a single painting. We see this in multi-media works like Fox in the Henhouse and Flowers for Fools.

The creativity exists where decisions are made about the inter-relation of texture, of image, of symbol or sign, and of pure textural coloristic presence in a single canvas. Damaged Man involves a pure Pop build up of near DayGlo screen-like patternings. They are like mappings of the digital world and generate a truly new language of combinatory colour and field layers for the digital age. The dagger and the rose brought into all this ads another very human layer to the story/tragedy. And we should not forget, for Dana Bentley the scale works best when it is ultimately large. Large-scale builds up the sense these are real, these larger than life scenarios. As inventive stories that emerge like rabbits from a hat out of the digital lands of the future, Bentley's art generates a new found language about animus and anima. Its all so primal for all its sophisticated use of the latest in digital layering, recombined into the act of painting of a flat surface.

The tensions built into these paintings can be as much psychological as they can be about the issues of our times. We see references to Hiroshima, and this in 2011, when the Fukushima Daiichi reactor tragedy bring recalls the wartime past for all of us. Secrets has a blurred pixilated image of a rabbit standing on a hat that recalls Alice in Wonderland, or it could reference the artist's magician father. It's a cosmology that involves the relativism of sensation, of our response to the multivariate mediatic world we now live in." – John K. Grande

  • Play 4 Free
  • You Will Be Asleep By The Count Of Ten
  • Hiroshiama IX
  • I Had Too Much Too Dream
  • I am a Dog
  • Me Too
  • Alive
  • Damaged Man in Love
  • Damaged Man in Love I
  • Damaged Man Pix2 Top Clean
  • Fox
  • Fox in the Hen House
  • I am Free
  • I Always Knew You Liked Carrots Fresh From The Garden
  • Peace Over My Dead Body