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13 x 10"
Graphite, Nero Pencil, and 23.5K Gold Leaf on Crescent Watercolor Board, 2016
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It wasn’t the goose that laid the golden egg; it was the hen. Each year the US poultry industry alone produces over fifty billion eggs, and over eight billion chickens are consumed; the net economic value of this industry, let alone their irreplaceable value as a nutritious food source, is staggering, yet chickens are seldom afforded the veneration they deserve. “Venus” further advances a theme I frequently explore in my work, the presentation of animal subjects in an iconographic rather than a natural history context. I have often fought against the notion that animal subjects simply aren’t as important or as legitimate as other artistic expressions, and that has lead me to champion especially those animal subjects which are often overlooked or taken for granted. By presenting the humble chicken, not simply as a bird, but as an object of veneration, we see it in a new light. I have used a Pekin Hen, which is actually a bantam and never used in commercial egg or meat production, because its exaggerated, ovoid shape, which I have further stylized on her undercarriage, nearly looks like a conflation of chicken and egg to begin with. The shape of the hen brings to mind paleolithic fertility icons such as the
rotund Venus of Willendorf, in which facial identity and even limbs are sacrificed in favor of breasts, belly, and vulva. In some early Greek statues, this obsessive emphasis on reproductive elements takes a turn towards the grotesque, with the goddess Aphrodite (or Venus) literally built out stacked breasts. My interest is in the beautiful, not the grotesque, but I did want to give a nod to the long and colorful history of the fertility symbol while exploring the beauty of this marvelous subject. It is high time that the fecund and life-giving chicken receives her due. The inclusion of the 23.5K gold leaf and the contemplative, nearly symmetrical compositional format, all serve to elevate her importance, and to position her as a worthy icon in the church of nature and man.
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.
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