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Screech Owl by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "Modern Camouflage"
30 x 30"
Acrylic on Cradled Board
Screech Owl


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“Modern Camouflage” is one of those paintings that has been a tantalizing but unresolved concept in my head for many years. I’ve long been fascinated with pattern, and more specifically with the idea of juxtaposing organic and inorganic patterns, but this painting is probably the farthest I’ve taken the idea. I had an image in my head of an owl hidden amongst a weave of pattern, evoking wallpaper, and bearing a cheeky title along the lines of “Nine Out of Ten Owls Approve of your Wallpaper.” The biggest challenge, as I then saw it, was how to bridge the gap between a realistically painted owl and a two dimensional background. My breakthrough was, in fact, the realization that no such bridge was needed. Much of the history of western art from the mid-19th century and into the 20th is a struggle between the treatment of the canvas in the Renaissance-inspired, “illusionistic” manner, as a space the viewer can imagine himself stepping into, or as a flat surface to be decorated. It may seem awkward that the illusionistically painted screech owl’s talons seem to be curving around a perch even though they are “gripping” a two-dimensional sweep of background pattern, but this tension is precisely the point. “Modern Camouflage” is about the contrast between patterns in nature and man-made patterns, so this very tension is an entirely integral expression of the piece’s conceptual underpinnings. While the fleur-de-lys are not an organic outgrowth of the owl’s color pattern, it’s worth noting that those shapes, like nearly everything we think of as “abstract” are at their core, mimetic of natural shapes; the fleur-de-lis is a highly stylized lily flower, though in my painting they twist and curl into organic outgrowths more reminiscent of leaves and branches. It is immensely satisfying to see this long-mulled-over idea brought successfully to fruition.

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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