The natural complexities of the Earth and its inhabitants are examined in the artwork of John Dempsey and Benjamin Duke. Their paintings and drawings are displayed in the Flora Kirsch Beck Gallery at Alma College from Monday, Feb. 12 through Thursday, March 15.
Admission is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. A closing reception with the artists will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 15.
Duke, an associate professor of art at Michigan State University, analyzes the wide scope of human behaviors in a surreal fashion that is rooted in a collaged aesthetic. His works are presented as both paintings and drawings.
During an interview with Studio Break, Duke described his creative process: “I play games with my perceptions as the language of the paint starts to map itself onto the world. I start to feel as though I am slipping into this different time-this painting time.”
Dempsey’s work investigates the environment’s diversity by way of collages in a more structured manner. Common themes of his work are rural and wooded landscapes along with architectural feats and the interiors of automobile manufacturing plants.
These environments are then painted side-by-side upon a single canvas in juxtaposition to one another. In doing so, Dempsey forces the audience to compare these settings almost subconsciously. Several of Dempsey’s works also convey undertones regarding the preservation of the natural world.