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Undaunted by my circumstances (i.e., being in a wheelchair, limited use of my hands, etc.) I continue to develop my love of drawing, animating and other visual arts. My specialty is portraiture, caricature and cartooning.
Robert Denton (°1961, Wolfville, Canada) is an artist who works in a variety of media. By contesting the division between the realm of memory and the realm of experience, Denton finds that movement reveals an inherent awkwardness, a humour that echoes our own vulnerabilities. The artist also considers movement as a metaphor for the ever-seeking man who experiences a continuous loss.
His artworks never shows the complete structure. This results in the fact that the artist can easily imagine an own interpretation without being hindered by the historical reality. By emphasising aesthetics, he tries to increase the dynamic between audience and author by objectifying emotions and investigating the duality that develops through different interpretations.
His works are an investigation into representations of (seemingly) concrete ages and situations as well as depictions and ideas that can only be realized in art. With the use of appropriated materials which are borrowed from a day-to-day context, he absorbs the tradition of remembrance art into daily practice. This personal follow-up and revival of a past tradition is important as an act of meditation.
His works are characterised by the use of everyday objects in an atmosphere of middleclass mentality in which recognition plays an important role. Through a radically singular approach that is nevertheless inscribed in the contemporary debate, his works references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.
His collected, altered and own works are being confronted as aesthetically resilient, thematically interrelated material for memory and projection. The possible seems true and the truth exists, but it has many faces, as Hanna Arendt cites from Franz Kafka. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, he often creates work using creative game tactics, but these are never permissive. Play is a serious matter: during the game, different rules apply than in everyday life and even everyday objects undergo transubstantiation.
His works isolate the movements of humans and/or objects. By doing so, new sequences are created which reveal an inseparable relationship between motion and sound. By choosing mainly formal solutions, he tries to approach a wide scale of subjects in a multi-layered way, likes to involve the viewer in a way that is sometimes physical and believes in the idea of function following form in a work.
His works are given improper functions: significations are inversed and form and content merge. Shapes are dissociated from their original meaning, by which the system in which they normally function is exposed. Initially unambiguous meanings are shattered and disseminate endlessly. With Plato’s allegory of the cave in mind, he seduces the viewer into a world of ongoing equilibrium and the interval that articulates the stream of daily events. Moments are depicted that only exist to punctuate the human drama in order to clarify our existence and to find poetic meaning in everyday life.
His works directly respond to the surrounding environment and uses everyday experiences from the artist as a starting point. Often these are framed instances that would go unnoticed in their original context. By taking daily life as subject matter while commenting on the everyday aesthetic of middle class values, he tries to develop forms that do not follow logical criteria, but are based only on subjective associations and formal parallels, which incite the viewer to make new personal associations.
His works sometimes radiate a cold and latent violence. At times, disconcerting beauty emerges. The inherent visual seductiveness, along with the conciseness of the exhibitions, further complicates the reception of their manifold layers of meaning. By questioning the concept of movement, he makes work that deals with the documentation of events and the question of how they can be presented. The work tries to express this with the help of physics and technology, but not by telling a story or creating a metaphor.
His works demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. With a conceptual approach, he presents everyday objects as well as references to texts, painting and architecture. Pompous writings and Utopian constructivist designs are juxtaposed with trivial objects. Categories are subtly reversed.
His works are based on formal associations which open a unique poetic vein. Multilayered images arise in which the fragility and instability of our seemingly certain reality is questioned. By examining the ambiguity and origination via retakes and variations, he uses references and ideas that are so integrated into the process of the composition of the work that they may escape those who do not take the time to explore how and why these images haunt you, like a good film, long after you’ve seen them.
He creates situations in which everyday objects are altered or detached from their natural function. By applying specific combinations and certain manipulations, different functions and/or contexts are created. By putting the viewer on the wrong track, he tries to create works in which the actual event still has to take place or just has ended: moments evocative of atmosphere and suspense that are not part of a narrative thread. The drama unfolds elsewhere while the build-up of tension is frozen to become the memory of an event that will never take place.
His works are a drawn reflection upon the art of art itself: thoroughly self-referential, yet no less aesthetically pleasing, and therefore deeply inscribed in the history of modernism – made present most palpably in the artist’s exploration of some of the most hallowed of modernist paradigms. Robert Denton currently lives and works in Lichfield, UK.
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Favourite genre of music: Blues & Folk
Favourite style of art: Traditional
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Favourite cartoon character: Foghorn Leghorn