Dennis Kardon (b. 1950, Des Moines, Iowa – lives and works in New York) is a graduate of Yale University, took part in the Whitney Independent Study Program, and was a student of Chuck Close and Al Held. Pervaded with a sense of untouchable intimacy, Kardon’s canvases are “generously painterly, voluptuously creepy narrative pictures of familial conflict, sexual angst and infantile yearning”, as Ken Johnson wrote in the New York Times in 2004.
For several decades, Dennis Kardon has been experimenting with painting’s ability to encompass the spectrum between abstraction and hyperreal representation. With an almost hallucinatory power, Kardon treats the surface of his canvases as a field with various properties of reflection or distortion, resulting in a narrative that seems to have been disrupted by an unexpected event. Kardon’s examination of the human figure digs into the psyche contradicting stereotypes and preformed ideas.
The artist’s whimsical tone serves to pervade his paintings with a discomforting feelingof familiarity: whatever you recognize is never exactly as you remember it to be. Critical comparisons have been made to David Lynch, for the ability to find the gothic in the every day, and to John Currin (who had a neighboring studio in the mid 90s). Ambiguity informs all the artist’s production: by playing with painting’s syntax and imaginatively re-contextualizing spontaneous painting from earlier stages, Kardon transforms each brushstroke into a possible signifier for something else. Thus, his paintings become a vehicle to examine how meaning is constructed, and allows viewers as partners in their creation. Kardon challenges painting’s potential by creating representational scenes that materialize from loose abstract brushstrokes. Moreover the endless intellectual challenge of Kardon’s practice has led him to counterbalance his painting with powerful writing and critical skills allowing him to become a highly respected contributor to several art publications.
Dennis Kardon has widely exhibited in the United States and beyond, and his work is part of public collection such as, among others, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the New Museum, the National Museum of American Art in Washington D.C., the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.