arcadia university art gallery  

Fictions + Facture:
Recent Work by Dennis Kuronen

September 8 - October 25, 2009


About the Exhibition and the Artist

Arcadia University Art Gallery is pleased to present “Fictions + Facture: Recent Work by Dennis Kuronen” on view from Sept. 8 to Oct. 25, 2009. Each of the three series that comprise this exhibition—color photographs mounted on box-like panels, reproductions of paintings by Johannes Vermeer (manipulated digitally and by hand), and 50 oil-pastel drawings cut from sketchbooks—is ostensibly about the figure. The real subject of these works, however, is their facture (the manner in which each image is made) and how our understanding of the physical surface of each picture (as evidence of its making), affects what it might mean.

As both an artist and graphic designer, Kuronen is mindful of the ubiquity of digital processing in relation to all contemporary images regardless of whether or not such procedures are actually applied. In both his Curtain (2007) and Obscura (2009) series, Kuronen strives to manipulate the viewer’s assumptions about digital intervention and the role of handwork in relation to both camera and computer. It is not only the figure that is being depicted in each of these works but specific techniques employed to produce surfaces, or, rather, the appearance of textures and optical effects, which, in turn suggest what we expect to be their corresponding processes and materials.

As a result of Kuronen’s fictions of technique and medium, we are invited to adopt a forensic mode of seeing to determine what we are actually looking at, which is not as easy as it might seem. The manner in which these pictures read from a distance—including their capacity to be regarded as figurative or abstract—changes radically in relation to our physical proximity to them. (In addition to generating beguiling and dynamic reversals of figure and ground, Kuronen’s use of the grid reveals new affinities between Vermeer and another Dutch master, Piet Mondrian.) Even the material identity of these works as paintings, photographs, or digitally processed prints seems to shift depending on the viewer’s distance from them.

The inclusion of fifty small oil pastels (beach studies on colored paper made primarily at the mid-Atlantic shore and Dominican Republic between 1998 and the present) provides an effective foil for the other work in the exhibition. Their abundance of direct observation, mark making, and textured surfaces—when considered in relation to the photographs and digital prints in the show—place these traditional attributes within a continuum of formal and expressive options now irrevocably expanded by evolving media.

By playing with the increasingly volatile and unforeseen interfaces between drawing, painting, camera, and computer, Kuronen has produced hybrid works that stubbornly, and perhaps paradoxically, resist any form of mediation and consequently need to be experienced in person to be completely apprehended and enjoyed. In the process, he asks us to readjust our focus to the question of how—as opposed to what—artworks mean in the 21st century.

Dennis Kuronen, a resident of Glenside, Pa., has for the last forty years combined dual careers in the fine arts and design. He began his studies as a painting and sculpture major at the University of South Dakota before getting his M.F.A. at the University of Nebraska. He moved to Philadelphia in 1979 to teach at Arcadia University (then Beaver College), eventually serving as Chair of the Art Department between 1988 and 1993. He then became founding Director of a new program in Graphic Design at Philadelphia University where he eventually served as the interim Dean of the institution’s newly formed School of Design and Media.

Kuronen has always made objects in a variety of media. He is a partner in the design firm of Kuronen + Michaels, with his wife, Rebecca Michaels, and has continued to practice in both domains on a consistent basis. His work is represented in numerous permanent public collections across the country, including the Sioux City Art Center (Sioux City, Iowa), the Joslyn Art Museum (Omaha, Neb.), and the Sheldon Museum of Art (University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb.). A permanent public outdoor sculpture sited near Philadelphia International airport and commissioned as a Percent for Art project by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, was installed in 1994. In 2007, Kuronen introduced his Curtain series in a group exhibition, “Parallel Visions” at the Sam Scorer Gallery in Lincoln, England.

Dennis Kuronen, Obscura series


Introduction to the Curtain Series
by Dennis Kuronen