Solo Exhibition | Scottsdale, AZ
Altamira Fine Art Scottsdale is pleased to present a solo exhibition for Denver artist, Duke Beardsley.
Join us for a reception during the ArtWalk on Thursday, March 18th from 7-9pm.
Relentless Bravado: Inexorable Deviations from the Lost Trail to Nowhere
In late May, I realized that for the first time in my life, I was tapping into the way the world had measured time for millennia—the lunar cycle. It was an ah-ha moment for me, so I started painting a series of moons. Flower Moon (May) was the first one I painted, and in a synchronous turn, the first painting to sell as part of The Booth Museum’s recent exhibition of my work—Indians & Cowboys: Redefined by Duke & Woodard. Flower Moon channels my fascination with Gustav Klimt, specifically his incredible garden paintings, with big riders laid over a background of bold flowers. I posted a photo of it on Instagram and received a lot of positive comments—proof that I just work here because I have no idea how or why certain paintings emerge when they do. Flower Moon sold to someone who saw that post.
If there is anything positive to say about the pandemic, it would be that it has forced me to slow down. What I do takes time, so it’s nice to feel like I’m giving this new series the time it deserves.
Beyond the lunar inspiration, these paintings signal a shift in approach: for the first time ever, I’m consciously focusing on texture. I’ve always felt the urge to touch and lick paintings’ surfaces. Now, I’m able to achieve that alluring quality by layering paint and applying an impasto modeling paste. Painting on such texture is fun but challenging; to make meticulous quarter-inch lines atop the crazy nooks and crannies takes forever. It’s like bringing order to chaos.
For instance, I’m currently working on a painting called, In Without Knocking, a title borrowed from an iconic Charlie Russell painting of cowboys getting rowdy in the streets of some cow town. That energy comes through this painting in the form of a kaleidoscope of candy-colored cowboys. One of the neat things about the Moon series and their texture is that they can’t get hurt—the more layers, the more hashed-out, the better. My paintings of working cowhands are delicate. If something goes wrong, I have to cut them off their stretchers and start over. These guys are the opposite: they are a window into my internal struggle. I prepped this canvas a year ago, but didn’t like what I was doing, so I turned it around to face the wall. When I reapproached it days ago, I started with a drab brown, then added turquoise, and suddenly, a string of colorful cowboys emerged—another first for me. I love doing riders in neutrals, never before a full palette. Usually, I get uptight about gridding out my compositions and seeing the outlines of riders. But this time, I just kept painting in spite of the fact that most of the silhouettes were too faint to follow. I have finally learned to give each painting the chance to tell me what it wants. As an artist, to not know what you are doing is incredibly liberating.
There is something about what is going on with the Moon series that I have been thinking about for a long time. As much as I love Western iconography, I have always challenged myself to challenge the genre, which is hallowed ground, I know. If you are going to tackle something as beloved and entrenched as Western art, you better pack a lunch. To challenge all the lore and the tradition requires acknowledging that you may fail. Maybe my tombstone will read: ‘Duke was willing to be wrong.’
Pre-sales available. Contact (480) 949-1256, or email email@example.com for details.
More images added soon.