Dena Novak

Artist Statement: 

"My paintings explore the intersection of hope and fear.  Layers of saturated color, gestural marks and organic forms converge in a state of raw honesty; holding the emotional tension found in times of chaos. These energetic and frenetic works live in a world of abstraction, sculpture and landscape loudly nestled between reality and dream.

Each day holds a unique uncertainty for me. The mobility in my body is often limited in range through the right side of my frame, neck and feet due to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). People with EDS (mostly women-insert stat) face a daily struggle with the thinning of the connective tissues that hold their bones in place; joints painfully slip out of place as the glue that holds them together weakens.  

What might be viewed as detrimental to the physical process of my art-making, I see as a guide or muse. Each time I am in the studio, the marks and forms created by the layering of oil paint are specific to my body’s abilities at that moment. My work is a ritualistic visceral process of countering this thinning, this disappearing, by adding layer upon layer of thick paint to each panel. It is almost as if I am willing the thickened layers to somehow magically keep the collagens in my body in place to make my art and presence known. 

I push at the boundaries of oil paint while also pushing the boundaries of my body’s physical capabilities to allow each painting to become a manifestation of what it means to find flow and intuition as a means of survival.

The paintings are carved with old clay tools. Line and texture bask in bright candy-colors. This vibrant cacophony is the expression of the beautiful desperation I feel as I move between joy and pain. The inevitability of death and decay is universal. It’s shadow lurks beneath the bold and brazen topography of each of my paintings."


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