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Icarus Drawing by Andrew Denman
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"Icarus Defiant"
16 x 24" Graphite & Nero Pencil on Watercolor Board
Icarus, Male Figure

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I’ve been fascinated with mythology, particularly Greek mythology, since my teenage years, and I’ve always found the Icarus story to be among the most potent and relatable of those stories. As an artist, my primary subject matter has long been birds, but I’ve explored figurative work now and again for years, and the Icarus myth inspired me as an opportunity to meld figure and feather in a context as full of graphic and visual possibilities as symbolic and emotional import.

In the second piece, “Icarus Defiant” we see Icarus as a young man, standing tall, strapping, and upright, his arms folded across his chest and head tilted back with a steely look of practiced indifference. I asked my wonderful model for this piece to give me an “Icarus as James Dean in Rebel without a Cause” attitude, and he delivered beautifully. The story of Icarus is, of course, a warning of the dangers of hubris. Icarus’s father, Daedalus, uses his talents as an architect and engineer to construct two pairs of wings to facilitate their dramatic aerial escape from Minos’s tower prison; he warns his son not to be lazy and fly too close to the water, lest the wings become wet and collapse, and not to fly too close to the sun, lest the wax that binds the feathers together melt. While the “moral of the story” is an important one, I was more interested in the narrative richness of a son just coming of age and facing the world- as we all did at one time- with unjustified confidence. That confidence, based primarily on a lack of knowledge of what can’t be done, can truly make the impossible possible; or it can lead to tragedy. Of course in the process of his escape, Icarus enjoys the freedom of flight a bit too much, and soaring too high, pays the ultimate price for his over-ambition.

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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