• Songbird@100.jpg
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  • Songbird.jpg
Fan - 30 Expert - 8

In 2019 I began a series of empty room paintings - staircases, empty chairs, windows to the outside, blowing curtains - with the intention of asking the viewer to consider what preceded, what follows, what does one think about with nothing to distract. Without knowing it at the time, Songbird was the progenitor of the series of bird paintings that followed. While there is an element of nostalgia in the painting, I can't help but think there is a also darker element, perhaps melancholy, just below the surface.

Responses (1)

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John Crowther
John Crowther Critic

January 10, 2022

Bruce Dean’s "Songbird" is a surrealist still-life with a subversive twist. Still lifes are supposed to be either devoid of life or only feature motionless life (something I have yet to encounter). "Songbird" would seem to fulfill these requirements until one considers its title and what lies beneath the hood in the painting's upper center. The lamp-like central furnishing is a suspended birdcage covered so that the bird might rest. If we presume the bird is alive, the painting contains a very lively and moving subject. However, since the bird is out of view, does it truly exist in the picture? I would say yes, because imagine what would happen to abstraction if we insisted direct representation was necessary for an object's inclusion in a work. This is all to say: sticking to traditional interpretations can lead to contradiction even when the traditions seem to be upheld.

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Bruce Dean
Painting - Unframed
Oil, Canvas
24.00 inches wide
30.00 inches tall
1.60 inches deep
10.00 lbs
Los Angeles, CA, US