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Kingfisher Painting by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "String Theory #21: Kingfisher"
30 x 30"
Acrylic on Cradled Board
Belted Kingfisher

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The 22nd piece in my “String Theory” series, this painting features the stunning Belted Kingfisher, which I observed in a park here in Tucson, Arizona. For those more familiar with the tiny, jewel-like European Kingfisher, these birds are surprisingly large and impressive. They are strongly built and very impressive to watch as they dive after fish. This female (identifiable by the rufus coloration on her breast), still has beads of water clinging to her feathers and bill from a recent hunt. I watched this bird for several hours, and she very seldomly made a dive without coming up with a minnow in her javelin-like beak. I chose to paint her as one most often observes a Kingfisher, perched very still and waiting to plunge into the water again, alert, bright-eyed, and practically oozing tension. The network of diagonal lines on and against which she “perches” is intended to suggest this impending action.

I began this series in 2018, first exhibiting them in 2019 in “Between the Lines,” a two-man exhibition with sculptor Don Rambadt at Astoria Fine Art in Jackson Hole, WY. Though each of these pieces is initially inspired by an encounter with a bird in nature, the conceptual underpinning are owed to my study of art history, particularly early modernism and minimalism. The contrast between illusionistic imagery and flat decorative treatments is the primary conflict in the evolution of art from the late 1800’s up until the advent of postmodernism, and it has been at the conceptual core of my work for nearly twenty years. Among my favorite minimalist painters is Barnett Newman, whose “Zip Paintings” consist of vertical lines set against large fields of flat color. It fascinated me how much depth Newman was able to achieve with so few elements, and 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. 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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