Hyperrealism Meets Intuition in the Paintings of Nancy Depew

Feb 13, 2016 2:36PM

True to the motifs that have long interested Nancy Depew, her solo show at Sirona Fine Art features canvases graced with flowers, landscapes, and human figures. Titled “The Beautiful World,” the show offers viewers a look at a range of her work, and some of the things she finds most beautiful in the world—be it a female nude couched in flowers, blooming orchids, or a remote patch of forest with mossy stones and a stream running through.

Depew concentrates on painting. Working largely in oils, she produces hyperrealist compositions inflected with otherworldliness and dreaminess. “I am not interested in documenting reality,” she has said of her approach. “I make three-dimensionally believable images, but I never think of them as ‘real.’ I am more interested in investigating the intuitive aspect of a subject. I dig into the nature of experience.”

The artist’s privileging of intuition and the emotional and psychological resonances of her subject matter is especially evident in the paintings in which the human figure meets flowers. In the mid-scale, darkly toned composition, Merge, a lush bed of blooms cradles a nude female figure. The figure’s smooth, even flesh contrasts with the riot of colorful flowers surrounding her, with their varied petals painted in shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, and white. Since her body is turned away from viewers, and her face is buried in the flowers, she appears ensconced in her setting and immersed in her own musings or dreams.

Even Depew’s still lifes, like Afterthought, seem imbued with suggestion. Here a slender green stem set into a glass vase holds two flowering orchids. This spare ensemble is set onto a dark brown surface and against a black background. Within this setting, the flowers’ yellow and purple petals pop. The painting’s title, together with its moody atmosphere, prompt questions about what this still life arrangement might indicate. Is this single stem of flowers the afterthought of a once full bouquet, or was it placed out by someone as a message or offering that only the intended recipient might comprehend? Such ambiguity runs through all of Depew’s works, reflecting a process that she describes as beginning “with a gesture. It is a visual idea, an intuitive idea, not a verbal or rational one.”

Karen Kedmey

The Beautiful World” is on view at Sirona Fine Art, Hallandale Beach, Feb. 6 – Mar. 6, 2016.

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