Froelick Gallery presents Portland-based painter Matthew Dennison's eleventh solo exhibition with us. Titled Commensalism, which refers to symbiotic relationships between species, these canvases depict iconic animal and human types in fluid oil colors punctuated by the graphic pop of sharp, taped-off edges and shimmering waves of tinted varnish.
Dennison's human figures stare glassily, looking uncomfortable or oblivious, dressed in stiff corporate attire at times augmented with eccentric touches such as a green hood or tall, blue hip waders. His animals, conversely, exude nobility. Bear, elk, mountain goat, beaver- all species native to the Pacific Northwest- pause before the viewer, wise-eyed and knowing. Other paintings have a more narrative bent- in one, figures wander down a city street sparsely adorned with bare trees and geometric color swatches as a trio of crows circle overhead; in another, people run from a harrowing scene in which buildings burn and the streets and sky seem to flow with lava; in yet another, bathers recline on rocks as an orca breaches the water's surface behind them. Reflecting the artist's deep environmental and social concerns, he warns of the imminent danger of climate change and of human encroachment on the natural world.