Leslie Glenn Damhus
My creative practice reflects my interest in devotional imagery. Appropriating the work of Renaissance artists, I look to subtly blur the lines between the historic and contemporary.
Often, symbolism in devotional imagery is playful. I strive to reflect this in my own work. What allegorical secrets are contained in fruit? Or plants? I am also interested in double meanings of animal symbolism: how a bird, for example, may signify a prophet in one painting and the Devil in another, or both at once, suggesting that nature can be simultaneously serene and menacing. Subtle contemporary fabrics play another important role; swaddling clothes, or the Virgin's dress, are patterned in polka dots or bubble gum tones of yellow, pink and blue urban camouflage. Haloes become decorative plates or flowers and headpieces turn into knitted animal hats. All painted in fine detail in the attempt to ensnare the viewers attention.
My paintings are made in oil on wooden panels with attention to details. Increasingly, I am interested in the textures and finishes that come out of the processes I use to create the work. An additional printing process creates a paradoxical combination of the 'look' of fresco paintings with multilayered oil techniques. Part of the process of making new work out of appropriated imagery is deciding what to leave in and what to leave out. By bringing the richness of devotional imagery into the contemporary art space, I am expressing my own sense that such imagery is still somehow relevant to modern life.