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Dene Leigh’s practice investigates neurological impairment and the fragility of human memory. Through painting, sculpture and drawing, the artist’s work endeavors to make sense of his grandfather’s difficulty with memory following a stroke.
In an effort to understand and deconstruct this experience, Leigh constructs artworks that prohibit the viewer from identifying information. Encouraged by our natural need to classify, the viewer is enticed to examine what each item is. Each piece is a part of the fragmented puzzle giving an insight into the mind of another.
Untitled (2019) pictures an unfamiliar colourful object scattered with circles and concealing the identity of the individual who is wearing a checkered top.
On the obscured individuals clothing, dark shapes with sharp edges juxtapose against soft lightly coloured circles on the object.
The circular shapes on the object contribute to the playful, primitive and childhood toy-like appearance, while creating perspective and form as the yellow circle to the left gets smaller.
Someone who has lost the ability to recognise familiar faces may have to look for clues in order to recognise someone who they know; a wacky haircut or a distinctive dress sense for instance. The distinctive checkered shapes in the clothing on this canvas create that possible identifying device of the unknown individual. A glimmer of hope, where someone with an impairment can use techniques and feel part of society once again. A tether point to hold on to.
Those rudimentary skills that we learn during childhood, which we take for granted (like communicating and recognising), can be lost at any moment and the transition from childhood to adulthood isn’t permanent and can easily be rewinded where everything has to be relearnt. This fragility and impermanence of memory is the subtle shift in the artist work of late.
"Our vision depends on two things, having a healthy eye to receive visual information and having a healthy brain to interpret and process that information. This allows us to see a picture of the world.
Looking at Leigh's work immediately creates a feeling being off-kilter, struggling to make sense of familiar parts in an unfamiliar order.
In his Portrait Series, Leigh represents images of profiles and hairlines, where the face is always left obscured or unrecognizable".
Caro Buermann for Hi-Fructose Magazine
"I create ambiguous representations of objects that are often combined and dismembered, rendering them unfamiliar. Mutating them from something that could be known to something foreign, decayed and entirely transformed. My work addresses questions about the fragility and impermanence of the human memory".
Born in 1989, in the United Kingdom, Dene Leigh graduated from Wimbledon College of Arts in London.
Selected recent exhibitions include Ephemeral (2018) and Agnosia (2016) at Baert Gallery in Los Angeles ; Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (2018 & 2017) in London.
The artist's work has been selected for the 2020 Derwent Art Prize held in London and Paris, and in recent years he has been selected to exhibit at the Young Masters Art Prize in London.
The artist lives and works in London.