Michael Dennis

Press release

Michael Dennis: States of Being

April 3 ? 26, 2008
Artist Reception: Thursday, April 3, 6 ? 8 pm

?Many years ago I discovered Michael Dennis' hauntingly beautiful sculptures of charred wood. His present work is a further refinement with dreamlike characters emerging from found wooden pieces. These sculptures tell us of his strong connection to the forest environment of British Columbia and its ecology. As a Landscape Architect I can well visualize discovering a grouping of these beautiful figures in the out of doors or indoor settings.?
Cornelia Hahn Oberlander CM FASLA, FCSLA, LMBCSLA
Sculptor Michael Dennis is internationally renowned for towering ancestral human figures of cedar.?Both abstract and semi-representational, the eight-to-ten foot sculptures have a formidable presence. At a time in history when the diminishing wealth of our forests ? particularly old growth ? has motivated ecological and artistic movements aimed at preservation, Dennis? use of natural, salvaged materials for almost three decades is particularly resonant.

For the first time at the Diane Farris Gallery, Dennis is showing smaller figures intended for interior sites. On these new pieces, which are?four-to-six feet tall, he has?accentuated the surface grain of the wood to bring out the natural beauty and texture of the found cedar. Selected?pieces have?then?been cast in bronze to accentuate the grain even more.

Dennis searches for the natural forms within enormous pieces of cedar wood retrieved from logging sites on the west coast of?Vancouver?Island. From each log he carefully summons?a human shape and presence. Dennis describes his new work as ?representations of self? and ?minimal suggestions of the humanity which we share?. Over time, his sculptures have become more abstract as he strives to balance representation and symbolism in his ongoing search for ancestral metaphors.

Michael Dennis graduated from Portland, Oregon?s prestigious Reed College. In 1967, he obtained a PhD from Stanford University. During the 1970s, he studied neurophysiology and was a professor of medicine at Harvard and the University of California, San Francisco.?Dennis moved to Denman Island during the 1980s, where he built his house in part with found materials. His exhibits and installations have been reviewed by the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, In Focus Magazine and, several times, by the Vancouver Sun. His work is in numerous prominent collections and has been installed at major universities in Canada?the United States,?and England. Michael Dennis first exhibited with Diane Farris Gallery in 1993.

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Yellow Twist, 2007

Vessel, Pia and Avante

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