Dennis
Leon

(1933-1998) London, England
Worked in Oakland, California

 

Year created:
1990
Taradale, Dennis Leon
Click images for larger view

52" x 78" x 38"

Bronze
Lent by Christin Nelson, Estate of Dennis Leon, Courtesy of Dorothy Goldeen, Art Advisory, Santa Monica, CA

No longer on view.

Artist and educator Dennis Leon consistently explored the subject of the natural landscape. He was first inspired as a child by the moors of Yorkshire and then by his subsequent travels throughout the US and abroad. Leon's art emerged from the observations and memories of his experiences within these various environments. His body of work includes site-specific installations, collage, drawings, pastels, and sculpture in wood and bronze. In each case, the landscape, natural forms and textures, and the artist's relationship to them were of central focus. His work deals with the themes of surface and physicality, timelessness and monumentality, memory and imagination, and mystery and surprise.

Taradale is a 600 lb. cast bronze of a plywood construction. Its form is reminiscent of a boulder or a granite faced mountain as it rests on the hillside with a timeless elegant clarity and an inherent strength. One of the central themes of this work is the artist's exploration of material ambiguity. The surface of Taradale is dotted with screw heads and has areas with a noticeable wood grain. Both these characteristics suggest that the work is made of wood, yet its familiar and realistic form suggests that it is made of stone. The final twist in this material mystery comes when we realize it's actually made of bronze. This blurring of intended, perceived, and actual characteristics provides a challenge to viewers to undertake a process of discovery. They must try and sort through their various thoughts and reactions in order to make sense of the work. A further tension and questioning is explored by the articulated surface of Taradale. The artist's hand is clearly evident in its relatively uniform grooving. It is this simultaneous feel of a familiar natural object in the landscape and the contrived qualities of a hand made work of art that gives the piece its sense of mystery and surprise and tests the scope of our imagination.