Artist To Watch: Chris Denovan

Chris Denovan is a painter working in Cape Town, South Africa and is currently on our list of South African Artists to Watch.

Chris enrolled in Ruth Prowse School of Art focusing on Portraiture depicting Prejudice, Discrimination and Power relations in gender and ethnicity. Interested to incorporate motion graphics into his art Chris, in 2006, began his studies in animation at The Animation School. From 2008 to 2010 Chris worked as an animator and background artist but wanting to focus fully on his fine art career, Chris made the move to becoming a full time artist and since then has been working on developing his own personal style through experimenting with different painting techniques in portraiture.

Above: Apathetic Allegiance (Citlali Nye). Oil on canvas

Chris has gone on to exhibit in various group shows in South Africa, including, among others, Studio 41, Salon 91, The Rust-en-Vrede Art Gallery and The Irma Stern Museum. Chris's most recent solo exhibition, Artificial Beasts, is being held at Art In The Yard until the 11th of April.

The works that form part of this new series consist of composite portraits created from various images sourced from the web, looking to create fictional identities and inject life into them and in so doing, giving them personhood and exploring notions around the act of portrayal. Further enhancing their fictional existence is the use of a web-based random name generator, which serves to highlight their virtual origins, but at the same time turns them into more personal entities.

Above: Embellish (Nikephoros Rossi). Oil on canvas.

Above: Embellish (Nikephoros Rossi). Oil on canvas.

In order to complicate these new identities, the portraits draw inspiration from various aesthetic characteristics from pre-Modern portraiture, which instigates a commentary on the act of portrait-making and what it means in a contemporary world full of digital self-identification and self-imaging. This ultimately results in a series of Frankenstein-esque entities that exist within the virtual, the imagined, and the historical realms of portrayal, where they strive for recognition in some ill-defined present-day reality.

For more information on Chris Denovan visit his website here.

Original article and images by Chris Denovan