Like an archaeologist, the depth of meaning in Dene Leigh's work springs from a desire to unearth and preserve history and memories. Imagery within his multidisciplinary practice draws heavily from an archive of historic and current found materials. As a child, the artist regularly experienced a collection of antiques and aged objects within his Great Uncle’s home. This guides his appreciation for discovering, combining and conserving timeworn materials.
Within his own discoveries, the artist aims to find aged items just before the stage where further decay destroys their structure, allowing them not to be forgotten. He reimagines, modifies or combines these items, redefining their meaning, form and status into ambiguous sculptures and cryptic drawings.
The artist’s partly fictitious photorealistic paintings reassemble information, questioning what is real and what is not. Through an interpretation of collaged existing found imagery and invented forms, the paintings explore ideas around recollection, time and nostalgia. Past paintings investigated the artist’s grandfather’s impaired memory after suffering a stroke; referencing his grandfather’s inability to grasp language and recognise once familiar faces. Themes from these portfolios, specifically illegible lettering and obscured faces, are reintroduced in new works.
Through painting, drawing and sculpture, Leigh unearths and halts the destructive decaying process of found items, allowing their history to be conserved and not forgotten. He redefines the way in which an item is perceived by removing or highlighting significant information discovered after the unearthing process. The artist reveals commonalities between these found items and fragments of past portfolios, merging them into new work. In doing so, he decontextualizes imagery, changing it’s meaning and unifying moments in time.
Dene Leigh is a British Fine Artist living and working in London, UK. He studied at Wimbledon College of Arts, London. The artist is to be included in the Brewers Towner International 2022 exhibition, selected by Elizabeth Price & Sepake Angiama, held at Towner Eastbourne. Leigh will be included in the 2022 Mirror Mirror exhibition at The Beaney House Of Art & Knowledge in Canterbury UK in collaboration with The National Portrait Gallery London. The artist is one of the winners of the 2021 SPACE Artist Awards and was shortlisted for The Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize as a Highly Commended artist. The artist's work has been written about in international contemporary art publications Art Maze Magazine, Hi-Fructose Magazine and Daily Serving. Solo exhibitions include 'Ephemeral' (2018) and 'Agnosia' (2016) at Baert Gallery Los Angeles. In recent years, the artist was selected to exhibit at the 2014 Young Masters Art Prize and the 2017 and 2018 Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition. The artists work will be acquired into the permanent public collection at The Museum of Canterbury, Beaney House later this year in 2022.