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Chicken & Egg Painting by Andrew Denman
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"Which Came First"
24 x 36" Acrylic on Cradled Board, 2017
Chicken & Egg

Private Collection

“Which Came First” began during a conversation with a longtime friend and collector who works in the biomedical research field. As often happens, somewhere during our conversation, my friend said, “I think this sounds like a commission idea.” His challenge was for me to create a painting about the parallel evolution of our growing understanding of the human brain and neural networks and the development of robotics and artificial intelligence, in a whimsical manner. That, of course, is a lot to put into one painting, and my first several attempts at a concept were none too compelling. Finally, my friend suggested I focus on the “whimsy” part. I had recently taken an absurd number of photos of a charismatic rooster named Larry, and was eager to paint him. Using the idea of the chicken and egg life cycle as a metaphor for creation, I decided to focus on the mimetic nature of technology. Nearly every human innovation owes its inspiration to nature, be it the vaulted ceilings of gothic cathedrals owing their genesis to forest canopies, or planes and helicopters being inspired by birds, or cars by horse-drawn carriages. Even today, most of the progress in robotics has been built around mimicry, developing a robot that swims like a fish, scurries like a rat, or flies like a hummingbird.

My idea was to show the progress from egg, to chicken, to a crude simulacra of a chicken (the wind-up toy), an elegant robotic chicken (the iChicken if you will), and finally an insubstantial holographic projection of an egg. In the background, the wallpaper-like chicken and egg pattern is punctuated by symbols for DNA, neurons, and computer chips. The birds become a metaphor for our growing understanding of ourselves, and a direct representation, however whimsical, of our efforts to master and mechanize the world around us. The fact that this story arc creates a circle, from egg to egg, is a reflection of a very serious conundrum; humans have long debated if there is a creator, and if so, who or what that creator might be. I wonder if thousands of years hence our own creations will be asking that same question, considering themselves to be the true originals, and trying, in their own turn, to mimic the world around them. They too might ask: “Which came first?”

Welcome to the online home for artwork by Andrew Denman, a California –based, internationally recognized, award-winning contemporary wildlife artist. Denman primarily paints wildlife and animal subjects in a unique, hallmark style combining hyper-realism with stylization and abstraction. His dynamic and original acrylic paintings can be found in museum collections on two continents and in numerous private collections in the USA and abroad. His clear voice, unique vision, and commitment to constant artistic experimentation have positioned him on the forefront of an artistic vanguard of the best contemporary wildlife and animal painters working today.
All artwork and text featured on this page and throughout this website is protected by international copyright laws. Use of these images or text is prohibited without the express written permission of Andrew Denman.