Robin Denevan: Portals and Passages, New Encaustic paintings

Opening: Friday, Sep 8, 2023 5 – 8 pm
Friday, Sep 8 – Nov 1, 2023

704 N. Wells
Chicago, IL 60654

Encountering a Robin Denevan painting is a multi-sensory experience. This artist finds his motivation in his drawings and memories of trips to various exotic locations. Recent paintings find their origins in journeys down the Amazon and China's Yangtze River.

Throughout his career, Robin has been inspired by his travels to a few of the world's great rivers. Many of his paintings are based on drawings he did of the Yangtze River in an area that has since been dammed and flooded. It was a unique opportunity to see such a magnificent and haunting landscape. He did these studies during the dry season when sandbars and islands cut the river into many paths.

Eschewing the use of a camera as a tool of reference, Denevan relies solely on the charcoal and sketchbooks he brings with him as he and a guide explore these mighty rivers together in small boats and canoes. Focusing on the shifting shapes before him, Denevan recognized similarities between the sweeping contours of the Yangtze and the serpentine channels of the Amazon from drawings he had done in South America. Though the two are vastly different, the subject of the river as a constant force that carves and sculpts the landscape was overwhelming.

Denevan returned with his drawings to his studio, and began the alchemical act of creating his organically textured paintings using beeswax, resin, oil paint, and in some cases, burnished sheets of aluminum and steel: all materials that enjoy a special and unique relationship with light.

Denevan's paintings are not about mere recollection. They are about sensory recall and evocation. The layers of seductive materials and light-activated surfaces in these works engage our senses, and in doing so, transport us to places that universally resonate.

Image: Autumn Isles, 21x21, encaustic and oil on canvas mounted on wood panel