Essay by Jacquelin Pilar, Curator, Fresno Art Museum, September 2004

for subterfluence at the Fresno Art Museum

Stephen Dent continues to examine his recognition that art is often an exploration of the tradition of painting. That like the geology of earth’s planes, the “strata” of paint used by an artist determines a harmonic and subtle richness in the final outcome. Moving from recognizable still-life subjects, these recent paintings have moved to the abstract but retain the palette of color by which local painter Stephen Dent’s work has become recognized in Fresno’s art community.

The term “subterfluence” implies that which lies beneath (or under) what moves (or flows) smoothly – an under-layered current flowing without harshness – hence the title chosen for the exhibition. Inspired by the variations in the seemingly simple but serene representational forms of Giorgio Morandi as well as the conventional compositions of Edouard Manet’s still-lifes, Stephen Dent has adopted both the colors and tones of his predecessors and an organizational understanding of the painting’s surface.

Dent paints in oil washes on canvas, wood panel or paper – writing directly onto the canvas with the brush. A stream-of-consciousness kind of personal writing is over-layered by painted oil color following the formal divisions of traditional proportion. The exhibition features Stephen Dent’s most recent paintings from the Fluence Series and an installation created as an examination of this artist’s process. Using the metaphor of the surface of smoothly flowing waters that serve as a cover for the chaos of what lies beneath, these new works continue to explore the importance of process as well as the traditions of art history.

subterfluence, 2004 | 2005 | projects/work | Tags: | Comments (0)