Duke Beardsley, "Later West: Indecorous Appropriations From The Lost Trail To Nowhere"

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March 7, 2023


March 7 – 18, 2023

Altamira Fine Art Scottsdale is pleased to welcome Duke Beardsley for a solo exhibition opening March 7th, 2023.


Please join us for the Artist Reception Thursday, March 16 from 7-9pm during the ArtWalk.



Although it may seem like Duke Beardsley’s lone riders are galloping into the future solo, the Colorado artist imagines three masters in their company. Gustav Klimt, Jasper Johns and Jean-Michel Basquiat join his current series of cowboys in their pursuit of bold new trails in his oeuvre and the wider terrain of Western art/art in toto.


Ever his own disruptor, Beardsley has added complete unpredictability into the core of his practice. Each painting now begins with a series of thick layers—acrylic paint, modeling paste, glaze. He then assaults this confection of mediums with fire—bubbling, cracking, burning texture into canvas. “I can’t walk away from what appears,” he says. “I’m forcing a lack of control into this whole situation. The surface becomes undeniable.”


Thus he manifests the knife edge between freedom and chaos as a material reality, challenging conditions he must contend with as he adds his signature cowboy iconography into the unwieldy composition. “I’m trying to hem in the chaos with a recognizable figure,” he says, a gesture rooted in the visual wrangling of Abstract Expressionism as well Impressionism. As a sixth generation Coloradan, Beardsley has been painting cowboys all his life; by rupturing his own process, he’s introducing an undeniable uncertainty he’s always, humbly felt in the studio, in proximity to his free-wheeling subject. “If I feel uncomfortable working with the cowboy, then I’m doing something right.”


Turning to the artists riding alongside his current crew of cowboys, Beardsley channels the experience of examining a Klimt landscape: Beneath the sum-total beauty, magnifying the artist’s brushstrokes reveals an infinity-scape of expressionist marks. Much like Johns’ approach to his banal subjects (flags, numbers): each brushstroke explodes the familiarity of the forms themselves, introducing complexity through impasto exuberance. Or the painterly “ka-pow” of Basquiat: his unequivocal embrace of fierce, fiery freedom. “Those three are pushing me right now,” he says. “I’m thrilled that my influences couldn’t be more non-Western. In pursuit of great image-making, there are conceptual connections that transcend subject. It doesn’t matter if these are cowboys or teapots or nudes; these paintings would still be considering this crazy, stylized, chaotic value-shift in the background."
Contact the gallery for details, (480) 949-1256, az@altamiraart.com