Derrick Piens

Works / Exhibitions / CV

The Bellows

Zealand, 2016
Oil and acrylic on canvas
60" x 48"

ANGELL GALLERY is pleased to present a solo exhibition of recent paintings and sculptures by Toronto-based artist Derrick Piens.

The show is on view at Angell Gallery, 1444 Dupont St., Unit 15, from September 10 through October 1, 2016, with an opening reception on Saturday, September 10, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Channeling influences ranging from graffiti to weather patterns to sea life, the art of Derrick Piens captures the frenetic quality of 21st century existence. Although the works are abstract, their vibrant colour palettes and intriguing vocabulary of forms evoke landscapes, urban environments and a menagerie of fantastic creatures.

Each work is developed through a layered process that is both strategic and intuitive. Sculptures evolve in a slow fashion, growing and changing as the form emerges. Armatures are covered with plaster-covered burlap, often developing an encrusted surface resembling coral or stalactites. Wire is formed into delicate geometric patterns whose rigidity is undercut by playfully coloured surfaces. Far from being artificial, the colours are those found in flowers, insects and tropical fish, where they act as lures to mates or prey, or provide camouflage.

A key work in the show is a tall form that suggests a mysterious sentinel. While this work’s imposing presence has a phallic-like shape, this masculine quality is balanced by a cavity within which sound is muffled, creating a womb-like ambiance. 

The paintings in the show mark the artist’s return to working in two dimensions, after years focused on sculpture. As with his sculptures, their creation is a multi-stage affair. Piens begins with acrylic paint, pens and sprays, working directly on the canvas so that its texture shows through in places. Then come layers of oil paint, oil markers that define elements, and oil spray. This complexity of method is mirrored in the multiplicity of colliding, fragmented shapes, rich in allusive potential. Look closely and you’ll see a recurring squiggle, a witty reference to both graffiti tags and the tradition of the artist’s signature.

Derrick Piens has an MFA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, a BFA from NSCAD in Halifax, and studied painting at Fanshawe College. He has had numerous exhibitions, including recent shows at the Latcham Gallery in Stoufville, General Hardware in Toronto, Union Gallery in Kingston, 330 G in Saskatoon, University of Waterloo Art Gallery, and Gelleria 5 in Finland.

Head on a Platter, 2015
Plywood, oak veneer and paint
16" x 12" x 14"
Regenerated Decomposition, 2015
Plaster, berlap, apoxie clay, pvc tube and paint
18" x 12" x 12"
Bellows, 2016
Mixed media on canvas
72" x 52"