Contemporary American artist, Dena Lyons, takes time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about her upcoming exhibition in Beausoleil.
Entitled ‘Trees‘, the exhibition features trees of different sorts, shapes and colours, and revolves around la joie de vivre. A few days before the opening, we met with this talented artist who now calls Monaco home.
Dena, could you describe your background a little for our readers– what got you into the arts, and in particular painting?
I started finger painting the first day of nursery school – it was my favorite activity already at the age of 2. I proceeded to attend magnet programs for the arts in Florida, and then I went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for college. Paintbrushes grew out of the ends of my fingers, and therefore made the choice to paint easy.
How would you describe your art?
My paintings are dynamic, contemporary, figurative pieces, normally made with oil and wax on canvas, full of energy, defined by subtle color choices.
Who influenced you? And how?
Everyone that walks into my life or through my line of vision. My neighbour, Mme. Lollipop and her positivity, my friend Gregg and his determination to do things the right way and efficiently, Morandi for his simplicity of form and palette and the monumental works that he creates with it, Wayne Thiebaud for his icing-like paint that you want to eat, it is so creamy, Thomas Friedman for the wit in his sculptures, Albert Camus for his sense of isolation in the world, Benny Goodman for adding verve into my life, and the pigeon that landed on my back thinking I had become one of the trees that I paint, for helping me to understand what it is like to be a tree.
Your upcoming exhibition which is opening this 4th of April in Beausoleil is entitled ‘Trees’. Can you tell us a little bit more about it?
In life, it is important to use the minimum in order to make the maximum. I paint individual trees because of their simple nature, creating something profound out of a singular, minimal subject. Trees are as varied in form as humans are, every one with a different shape, size, and colouration. Each portrait of a tree represents a different aspect of the human condition: desire, hope, humility, and revery, among others. Most of the paintings are similar to size to that of a human, as if you are standing in front of another person. In this exhibition, ‘Trees‘, you will be amidst a garden of trees.
What is the biggest challenge you are currently facing as an artist?
The biggest challenge as an artist in 2013 is surviving in a global economic crisis without compromising the quality of the work to commerciality.
What has been the biggest victory or success in your art career so far?
My biggest success was moving to France with only one contact, no money, and living off of my paintings for 10 years. In the process I travelled through most of the regions of France and embarked on amazing adventures.
And what’s next for you now? Do you have any short term or long term artistic goals?
Short term goal…I would like to attack a 10 foot canvas or larger to recreate a life size tree, instead of being limited by my size or that of the room I may be painting in. Long term goal…it is hard to think of the future when you live in, and are happy with, the present.
You are American but you live in Monaco. What do you like about the French Riviera?
After travelling for five years through the countryside of France, not having found a city that suited my energetic and creative nature, I moved back to Chicago. When I discovered Monaco, ever so cosmopolitan and majestically beautiful at the same time, carved into the hills, I melted. It has the best of all worlds, a plethora of subjects to paint, diversity of people to exchange ideas with, and the wonderful traditions of French culture that linger still in the quality and leisurely pace of life.
We would like to thank Dena (pictured below) very much for taking the time to talk to us, and we wish her the very best of luck with the exhibition. To find out more about Dena’s work, you can visit her website. The exhibition, Trees, runs from the 4th of April to the 3rd of May, 2013.
Galerie du Service Culturel
34, bd. de la République
Opening hours – Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 4:45pm.
All images courtesy Dena Lyons