Driven by an archaeological impulse, Dene Leigh intertwines autobiographical and fictional fragments of history and historical memory in painting, drawing, and sculptural work that share a foundational urge to unearth and preserve the psychic and cultural artifacts of time’s passing.
Having always been extremely close with his grandfather, Leigh’s interest in the themes of recollection, time’s passing, and nostalgia developed as a way to seek sanctuary after the relative’s experience with neurological impairment after a stroke. Drawing from the trauma of this cognitive dislocation, Leigh’s work imagines a physical shape of introspective rumination—one that collects memories and their material embodiments in the external world on a flat indexical collage board of the mind.
Dene’s trompe l’oeil paintings draw from a wide range of real found objects, tokens of personal value, and imagined artifacts in structurally dense, sculptural-seeming compositions executed in a style reminiscent of Old Master technical exercises and Surrealist collages. These dream-like compositions, bound together with bold shadows and lavishly diverse imagery, question the reliability and veracity of mnemonic recollection and its reliance on the world’s objects. Here, precise figurative depictions of loved ones hold together blurred imagery and fleeting moments in time alongside invented characters, exacerbating the challenges of recollection and temporality of memory itself.
Leigh unearths and halts the decaying process of aged materials, incorporating objects from his childhood alongside an arbitrary collection of found items. He preserves, modifies, and combines these materials, redefining their meaning, sentimental value, form, and status into inherently ambiguous compositions. He reveals the interconnectedness of formerly varying materials and decontextualizes others while unifying moments in time.
Dene Leigh is a British Artist living and working in London, UK. who studied at Wimbledon College of Arts, London. This year, the artist will be included in Brewers Towner International 2022 at Towner Eastbourne UK, selected by Elizabeth Price & Sepake Angiama. He will also be included in the 2022 Mirror Mirror exhibition at The Beaney House Of Art & Knowledge Canterbury UK in partnership with The National Portrait Gallery London. The artist is one of the winners of SPACE Artist Awards 2021 and was shortlisted for The Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize 2021 as a Highly Commended artist. Solo exhibitions include 'Ephemeral' (2018) and 'Agnosia' (2016) at Baert Gallery Los Angeles. The artist's work has been written about in Art Maze Magazine, Hi-Fructose Magazine and Daily Serving.