Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Kelly Denato

Release Me by Kelly Denato

I'm so excited to finally write about Kelly Denato's art!  Her work is soft, delicate, ethereal, even cute, but always with an undercurrent of foreboding, if not downright grotesquerie.  But, I don't just love her art, I also love her art blog.  At No Punch Backs: The Art of Kelly Denato you can learn about how she creates her art.  I love reading about where she draws her inspiration and her thoughts on things like art shows, color-blocking and composition.  Getting to follow along with how her lovely noodle-armed beasties are made makes me appreciate everything she does all the more.  Please, please, be sure to check out both her blog linked above, and her artist's website where you can peruse practically all of her work.  And then throw money at her.

Over the Lake by Kelly Denato

Denato's art is amazing in multiple ways.  Immediately, one can see that it is dream-like, ethereal, and soft.  Her subjects are composed of curved lines, noodle-arms, and flowing sheets of hair.  There's rarely a harsh, jagged shape to be found among these pillow-y landscapes of curved backs, calves, and knees.  The gentle feminine nature of the work is not just in the form, either, but also the lush colorscapes that Denato layers with her acrylics on wood.  Smears of pink, red, grey, and blue amid shifting fields of light and shadow give her work a delicacy, a fragility that plays into the second point of brilliance in her art.

Sweet Nothings by Kelly Denato
There is another facet that is equally as immediate as the sweetness in Denato's art, and that is the horror of it.  From body-horror blisters like those seen in Sweet Nothings to the eldritch unspeakableness of Winter Coat to the straight brutality of I'll Eat You Up, Denato doesn't rest in a bubbly, cartoonish Wonderland.  Her work is more like the ratcheted-up nightmares you'd have after binge-watching Adventure Time and reading some particularly diesel Lemongrab fanfic.

Winter Coat by Kelly Denato
The overall effect of this juxtaposition between soft cuteness and revulsion is the stricken kind of horror of tortured puppies and broken children.  It reminds me of the night my cat Malcolm brought in a dead baby bunny he'd caught and proceeded to devour it in front of me, its tiny stomach still full of curdled mother's milk, leaving only the tip of one velvety ear.  There's something about the gentle, pretty femininity of Denato's work that disarms the viewer in preparation for the darkness of her content.  Made vulnerable in this way, the viewer is then more powerfully disturbed by the sadness and loathing in Denato's creations.

I'll Eat You Up by Kelly Denato
Gold Leaf by Kelly Denato
On a final note: some of Denato's work is just excellently surreal.  The kind of vivid strangeness that makes me pleased with the history of art.  It makes Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase go down easier knowing it left a legacy where Denato can make something as lovely as Wolf Life Me.

Wolf Like Me by Kelly Denato
Hopefully, I've given you a taste for Denato's incredible paintings.  Please do check out her sites linked near the top of the article.  Sweet Dreams!

She's So Phi Above Me by Kelly Denato


1 comment: