A Change of Art
Most artists would find it daunting to change styles late in their careers. Painter Warren Dennis has found it to be liberating.
Dennis, who turned 85 earlier this month, has spent the last 18 months exploring his own personal brand of cubism, an art style that first intrigued him in the 1950s.
“I reached an end of what I had been doing for 60 years; I had used it all up,” Dennis said. “I had to keep painting, but in a new way. I turned to this current style, at first, with some apprehension. Then a flood of new ideas came on to me, and this is the result.”
The result is a new exhibition of Dennis’ work called “2012 Figurative Abstractions” at Carlton Gallery in Foscoe. An artist’s reception for the new exhibition will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the gallery, as part of the Avery Tour de Art. The event is free and open to the public.
The exhibit will feature approximately 15 large paintings that Dennis has painted in this new style.
“It started about a year and a half ago when I started a series of paintings based on the (Blue Ridge) Parkway,” Dennis said. “I started to simplify the figures in a cubist style, and, all of sudden, there was an explosion of work. Some were done very quickly. It was really a refreshing change.”
Dennis’s new paintings touch on a variety of themes, and a lot of them feature people and their occupations and activities, such as “The Archer” and “The Fisherman.”
“They are similar to my previous work in that they are bright and full of life,” Dennis said. “I like them. As Huckleberry Finn said, ‘The wages is still the same.’”
Dennis, who has been exhibiting his work at Carlton Gallery for 28 years, taught art for several decades at Appalachian State University to hundreds of students, including Carlton Gallery owner and curator Toni Carlton.
Originally from Mississippi, Dennis earned his B.A. in art from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1953 and his Masters of Fine Art from the University of Mississippi in 1955.
“In looking at some of my early paintings, I can see that they are kind of cubist,” he said. “When the interest in the style re-awakened in me, I began to know exactly what cubism was all about.”
With his work hanging in numerous galleries, museums and private collections, he admits it will be interesting to gauge the reaction of his fans to his new style.
“The question has already been raised about the difference between these new paintings and the paintings that came before,” Dennis said. “My response is that they all come from the same source. These new ones are cubist based, while my earlier work is naturalistic, but maybe a little eccentric.”
Dennis’s legacy in the world of art is not confined to his paintings. Many of his children and grandchildren are also artists or are involved with creative endeavors, such as photography, filmmaking, stuffed creations and set design for theater productions.
“They’ve all gone on to explore different pursuits, so nobody’s in competition with anybody,” Dennis said.
As for his new creative pursuits?
“I like these new paintings,” he said. “I think they are colorful and energetic and, although they don’t follow current trends, I don’t care. I know they are good.”
Carlton Gallery is located at 10360 N.C. 105 in Foscoe. For more information, call (828) 963-4288, or visit http://www.carltonartgallery.com.