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Cactus Wrens by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "String Theory #16: Cactus Wrens"
36 x 12"
Acrylic on Cradled Board
Cactus Wrens

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The cactus Wren is the state bird of Arizona, and it’s easy to see why. They are the largest wren native to the US: big, audacious, and tough as nails in the harsh desert environment. My first experience with these birds was in Anzaborego Desert Park in 2010, when a cactus wren took advantage of the six seconds I left my car door open to hop inside and steal a bite from my bag of chips. Years later, living in Arizona, they are a familiar part of everyday life, and I encounter them often in my ramblings through the Sonoran Desert. It is fascinating to watch them nest in the most formidably prickly of cacti, fly about with ease even in crippling summer heat, and (as ever) prove themselves deft opportunists at every picnic. I saw these birds in Sabino Canyon, courting each other atop a towering Ocatillo. The color palette echoes the oranges, browns, tans, and warm violets of late afternoon desert light, while the hard lines on which they perch refer (at least at their inception) to the stark geometry of the desert. This is the sixteenth entry in my “String Theory” series.

On a conceptual level, the contrast between illusionistic imagery and flat decorative treatments has been at the core of my work for nearly twenty years, owing largely to my study of modern art, so it should come as no surprise that an image of birds essentially flying into a Barnett Newman painting and perching on the stripes came into my head like a thunderbolt. Simply by virtue of their proximity to more descriptive elements like the birds, otherwise completely flat areas of color become alive and animate in three-dimensional space. Of course, the concept evolved well past this initial point of inspiration to become something entirely new and very much my own. These pieces, cheekily titled “String Theory,” suggest the dislocation of birds from their natural environments and their adaptiveness to the urban and suburban habitats we have made. In the final context of the painting, these colorful stripes are not meant to “describe” anything as mundane as a fence posts, branches, or bird feeders; rather they become their own non-objective environments, beautiful, evocative, and otherworldly.

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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