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Saguaro Spine by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "Spine"
30 x 30"
Oil over Acrylic on Cradled Board
Saguaro Spine

This piece is available from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's Ironwood Gallery duirng the ASDM Art Institute Faculty Show: "Seeds, Saguaros, & Skeletons," June 15- September 1, 2024. Contact the Gallery HERE for further information.

How to Buy, General Information

A number of years ago, I painted a Devil’s Claw Seed Pod on a heroic scale. It was such a lyrical shape that I knew I had to paint it, and I was fascinated by how simply changing the scale turned a piece of dried plant matter from something humble and recognizable into something abstract and alien. More recently, I came across a fallen Saguaro spine, and was amazed at how foreign it looked out of context. I have examined these spines on an actual Saguaro many times, and they have always impressed me with their intricate radial pattern and symmetry. But isolated from the plant, it looked like something from another planet. Much of my work has long been about recontextualization; by taking a common animal or plant out of its natural environment and housing it in a non-objective context or changing its color or relative scale, the viewer is forced to re-evaluate what they think they know about the subject. In “Spine,” I am using two of these tools to recontextualize, the use of a non-objective space, and the unexpected change in scale. Together they refashion the familiar into the extraordinary.

I immediately set about taking an exhaustive series of macro photographs of my little spine in a variety of lighting situations. I became very interested in the bizarre cast shadows and set about to create a composition that incorporated these shadows as major compositional elements. In the end I narrowed my efforts down to a few possibilities, and finally settled on the configuration you see here. I like how it looks beautiful and dangerous, heavy as a mace and light as air all at once. It has the strangeness of an artifact that fell from space, but also an underlying familiarity owing to its omnipresence in the Sonoran Desert, however overlooked. As pleased as I am with the final piece, I may very well paint from some of my other references and make “Spine” into a small series.

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.