Throughout his career Dennison W. Griffith has endeavored to foreground the materiality of painting and its formal, psychological, and conceptual dimensions. He constructs his work in a physical way — through gesture, color, and drawing-based procedures — while imbuing it with questions of performativity, humor and nothing short of life’s libidinous nature.
His work has embodied the idea that painting is a physical thinking process to continue an interior dialogue and a way to engage in a kind of internal discourse, or sub-linguistic speech. Strangely intimate, Griffith’s abstractions have negotiated a space of both ideas and feelings that are inflected with an emotional empathy and with gestures that are capable of being simultaneously pensive and assertive.
These last two years have marked striking departures in the continuity Griffith’s steady, dependable studio practice of the 15 years prior. The result is a surprisingly vital series of works that, among other things, express the totality of painting. He has become absorbed in the semiotics of painterly language itself by way of a vocabulary that focuses on gaping, mothership yoni images, often supported on spindly tripods or pendulous on meager tethers that ascend upward into the sky beyond the picture plain.
They are the surprisingly innate symbols of vitality that are still tenderly in need of help and support so that they might participate in the dance that comprises the rest of any given painting. It’s a choreography that includes other-worldly yet comforting landscapes, and motile, vaguely spermatozoon visual counterpoints.
They are kind paintings that manage to mingle Amy Sillman’s approach to abstraction with a hint of Guston’s more malevolent code. They celebrate, but also retain a clarifying air of solemnity. These new works are curious and cathartic but also cogent and restrained.