DANIEL CHARLES DEMPSTER|
Artist Member, Copley Society of Art
"These exquisitely detailed drawings are not only a visual delight but, moreover, from the technical aspect the artist has taken the medium of coloured pencils to its zenith. There is nothing overdone, he uses each line or shaded area to render his subject in fine detail; nothing more and nothing less."
"Each piece is wonderfully detailed and delicate, resulting in a startling degree of realism. At first glance you see each piece for what it is, paper and pencil on a flat plain. But the more you look the more you become drawn into the space and marvel at the clever way in which Dempster has captured such ethereal qualities... Whatever Dempster makes you think, there's no getting away from the fact that they are beautiful works of art."
"The much used and hence very familiar expression "Time waits for no man" captures the essence of Dan Dempster's current show, Bermuda Shallows.
These exquisitely detailed drawings are not only a visual delight but, moreover, from a technical standpoint the artist has taken the medium of coloured pencils to its zenith.
There is nothing overdone, he uses each line or shaded area to render his subject in fine detail; nothing more and nothing less. He has chosen to work on beautiful paper, Ingres paper, and the entire body of work is elegantly framed in brass, copper and aluminum frames [by Bark Frameworks, New York City] that do much to underscore the simplicity of the drawings. The result is that in the understated setting of the Lusher Gallery they seem to sing.
This is perhaps a small show in numbers of drawings, but the impact is enormous. And Dempster's message is also very clear.
The artist's work is as much about the process of change, for example, the ebb and flow of water on a beach, as it is about how nature and man relates to this process. Nothing is constant. The sea washes the rocks and gradually cracks and fissures develop. The turning of the tide changes a tiny, quiet pool to a swirling eddy.
Nowhere is this more eloquently described in the drawing Surfside - Hungry Bay. Here we see that the action of sea and sand has worked through the rock to score and reveal the varying underlying rocks. Still we see that the water is gentle, soothing and luminous.
It fingers the grasses, delicately curling around the roots; the salt air picks at the thin blades as Dempster establishes the subtle nuance of change in Sheep's Head, Bantry Bay.
I want to find that bed of rock Dempster shows us in Endgame, Tucker's Town. I want to assure myself that change is hardly discernible.
It seems that little can penetrate this bed of "iron."The sea has only been able to scratch the surface and leave a checkerboard of feathery lines...
There are signs of human life in Sandpiper, and I smile. I am on familiar ground now. Dempster has worked quickly to catch the footprints in the sand before they are washed away. A thread of white surf creeps in. Where did the woman go who had such long, elegant feet? Is the child still running barefoot trying to catch the Sandpiper? Who knows? They're gone now. The tide has washed the sand clean again.
Each drawing is a moment in time, a vignette of life. These contemplative, modern pieces are thought provoking. The subdued palette, flowing composition and technical finesse all serve to impress the viewer with the artist's sense of concern about the excesses of our life.
He has distilled this concern (and his message) down to the relationship of the four elements, of these I believe he must see water as the most essential. Would Dempster be happy living away from the sea or at least a large body of water? I think not. He, like the rest of us, has grown up surrounded by water. It renews, it changes and it replenishes.
It has made us what we are - an island.
In the Bermudian context this show has much to tell us. What we have today we could lose tomorrow, be it with the sweep of a wave or the shift of sand. Can we alter our lifestyle and our thinking to let nature influence us? It could be a change for the better."
"You notice something refreshingly different when you walk into Nicholas Lusher's gallery in the Washington Mall.
Okay, so you don't expect art galleries or museums to feel like The Robin Hood pub in the middle of a chaotic happy hour session but nevertheless the very tranquil atmosphere of the show still comes as a surprise.
The reason for this is Dempster's work itself...
In a place where artists seem almost conditioned from birth to churn out bland 'Bermudiana,' on an island littered with canvasses showing turquoise seas, vibrant sunlight and lush greenery dotted pastel coloured houses, his drawings are wonderfully restrained and offer something different from the usual tired menu.
That is not to say that Dempster has shied away from his environment. The 20 or so drawings that line the walls of the gallery all depict local coastal scenes. But it is Dempster's approach that marks him out as different from so many local artists.
The majority of the drawings, all executed in coloured pencil on Ingres paper, zoom in on a microcosm of coastal life - a footprint in the sand, sunlight catching the ripples of a small rock pool, a piece of driftwood, a clump of grass on a sand dune.
Each piece is wonderfully detailed and delicate, resulting in a startling degree of realism. At first glance you see each piece for what it is, paper and pencil on a flat plane. But the more you look the more you become drawn into the space and marvel at the clever way in which Dempster has captured such ethereal qualities.
I've read an awful lot of guff about Dempster's 'work.' (God how I hate that phrase) For example one critic, reviewing Dempster's recent 'Timewrack and Tide' exhibition in New York, wrote: "Time has been built into the work, hard wired into the concepts, change is natural and intended and inherent in concept."
"Instead of decaying with the years, these (sculptures) are intended to carry into the future not only the physicality of change but also the resonance of past states..."
And another piece was described as "pulsing with the touch of the divine."
I'm not sure if I would go along that far. What each viewer gets out of a picture is entirely down to the individual.
Sure, you might find yourself contemplating the mysteries of the universe, wondering what the purpose of mankind is, why are we here, and where are we going?
Then again you might just think "Won't that sketch of a piece of driftwood look lovely above the mantlepiece?" Whatever Dempster makes you think, there's no getting away from the fact that they are beautiful works of art."
The drawings were beautifully mounted and framed by Bark Frameworks of New York.
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|"Our enjoyment of outer vastness is simply our inner vastness recognizing itself." - Daniel C. Dempster
Daniel C. Dempster