Realistic Illusions

by Theodora Mitsou

Today, searching for new artists is the only easy thing. On social media, in countless galleries and art concepts, in art fairs, and even on the street. Each artist always has something to show or say, without the works and their artistic identity remaining indelibly in the viewer’s memory. In other words, it is now rare, in the flood of images and information that we receive and process, to remain fixated on a single idea, a single image – because that is precisely what is required. So when the artist succeeds in unlocking specific emotions in the viewer’s mind, the image that he offered with all sincerity is imprinted in the mind. One of the rare living contemporary visual artists who has experienced global success and is accepted by both the art world and the buying public is the Swiss Andy Denzler. Why; Knowing better about his work and vision, it will be easy to understand. Initially, Denzler’s canvas and patterns are immediately recognizable.

From the beginning of his career, he invented a unique artistic language, a visual identity, a style and a world that belong only to his own fantasy realm. His works resemble works of Italian or Flemish origin from the 17th century and his color palette ranges between ochres, browns, blacks, grays and flesh tones, highlighting the naturalness and peculiar energy that surrounds his paintings. As viewers of one of his works, we feel like dreamers, hidden observers, invisible, complicit in the situation he has so magically created. Looking at his distorted, seemingly moving subjects, we attempt to identify with the human elements that our minds can adequately comprehend, those that we can process as plausible and would fit into our own reality.

Through this symbolic, meaningful exploration Denzler has found a coherent technique to unlock the photographic emotion in painting, without however relying on photorealistic methods or technical processing in order to evoke the (false) sense of reality in two and three dimensions. Denzler reshapes, scrapes, and treats his chosen surface with ease, playing with paint with exemplary ambition and precision while maintaining a steady flow – a feat especially rare for a contemporary artist. In his studio, he paints pictures, faces, and bodies, still-life compositions, and landscapes. It does not keep the composition intact, instead, it composites the original image only to format it. The wet-on-wet technique he uses works equally harmoniously when he adds and when he removes colors, while it is an inhibiting factor for the realistic performance of his work. To deconstruct his work, he uses a spatula, a step not easy for the psyche of the artist, since it negates and “destroys” the (up to this point) fruit of his creation. At the same time, the thick layers that decorate his canvas give it the feeling of a textured texture: perhaps more descriptive, as if the artist is trying to create a sculpture within his painting. His work has elements of abstract expressionism, but at the same time is consistent with traditional painting from the Renaissance to the present day.

His most recent series of works (including ‘Sleepwalker II’, 2018 and ‘The Painter’s room V, Triptych’, 2018) continue to follow the same familiar thematic and stylistic patterns, with an emphasis on the human body and the dramatization of a distorted image. The painting of the young man in the white T-shirt (‘Black Hands I’, 2016), with his gaze downcast, his black hands and palms facing us, emits an ambiguous aura. He radiates, as he stands isolated, sorrow and repentance. Denzler is more concerned with the mobility than the gestures of his subjects. He often creates his heroes from photographs and polaroids, but also by photographing models or faces next door himself. Thematically, it deals with ideas of people who face situations of narrowness or social difficulties, or marginalization. His portraits are not so much based on real people, but evolve through the power of the image and reflecting their own honesty and authenticity.

Andy Denzler is deeply interested in what lies beneath the surface, in a world stripped of materialistic pleasures, luxury and spotlights. The gloom of his protagonists covers all his works and makes the viewer enter into a process of compassion and understanding toward their faces. Often his portraits do not have many details, but rather depict a pars pro toto figure. In both film and photography, Denzler prefers the closeup, which allows direct access to the protagonist of the painting. The abstract surrounding space is particularly important to observe in his works, as the highly dynamic and cataclysmic imagery of his work creates a sweeping conflicting feeling of movement and stillness. One would say that for a short period the passage of time has temporarily stopped, and we, observers and judges, experience a moment of eternity that acrobats on a realistic analog perspective – and of course, this image has already passed into our subconscious.

Born in 1965, the Swiss artist lives and maintains his studio in Zurich. His work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums around the world. Many of his works are included in private and public collections, such as those of the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz, Germany, Credit Suisse in Switzerland, and the Burger Collection in Hong Kong. Andy Denzler is represented in Europe and worldwide by Opera Gallery.

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