Piecings from a Pictorialist: The Art of Rory Dean

Rory Dean at Blow Salon’s Fall Art Show 2014, August-November.


“The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.” –Jerzy Kosinski

These days, with so many art-making tools at our finger tips be it traditional media such as graphite or paint, pen or film, or new tools such as the computer and all of it’s accessibility to information, ideas and manipulation, there is always the place of the mind and soul; of emotion, thought and experience.  Well executed art transcends its media and gets deep into us to become part of our memory, dreams, of who we are.  There is a special corner in Berkeley, California where such evocation is happening now that you shouldn’t miss:  A pictorialist’s perspective by Rory Dean.

At first glance Rory’s new work is obviously photographic yet perplexing as so many images and pieces intertwine to create reflections of experience.  Deep wounds and uplifting dances juxtapose yet flow with ease.  Photos of familiar places in San Francisco, the San Joaquin and Napa Valley blur the lines of reality as Rory blends colours and emotion with such vigor that you might think you just remembered that scene from your own dream just before waking this morning.  These real and imagined landscapes manifested from ecstasy and turmoil, draw one in for lengthy breaths and linger long after the return home.


Although these works are very technical in their execution, this is left behind as the viewer is invited in to not only contemplate what the artist went through during the creation but to bring their own experiences to the palette.  As inner-worldly as they are, there is a knowing that these pictures also inhabit the collective experience of humanity and this makes it work.  The art is as strange as it is accessible, such as with “Roads Within Chaos.”  At first glance I was drawn to it by the bursting colour that seemed like the moment of creation of the universe.

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” – Stephen Hawking

Stepping closer I began to see familiar things like faces and eyes, purposeful shapes.  I thought I was imagining these as my mind tried to make sense of it, as I often do with abstract paintings.  However, I began to see dogs and perhaps eyes of wolves, fans and tables came into focus, and finally my own ideas and memories swirled around the starbursts along with the artist’s.  That instant it became mine as well as his and I knew that the next person who gazed at this would enter this world with us.  We would now always have this connection whether or not we had ever met.

That is what great art does:  Evokes and Connects us – to each other and to our selves.  If you happen to be in the strange land of Berkeley, I hope you take a moment to experience Rory Dean’s art and visit the even stranger land of the inner self.


2 responses to “Piecings from a Pictorialist: The Art of Rory Dean

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful coverage of my work and recent gallery show. You truly made it all possible, from your ever diligent support and guidance to your organization and creative input – not to mention your corralling of the printing of the images and the fabulous results! I count myself lucky every moment of this incredible journey of ours, these years and decades, the hours…we’ve seen so very much, chronicled it, committed things to ink and page, to canvas and digital realms…what an amazing way of traveling through this life, with your love and soul mate, with fellow artist and muse, with my everything. Gratitude is certainly not enough. Years of oneness must certainly go out from here, like the long shadows of midday, the twilight of magic hour and the crescent shaped glimmer of a waning gibbous poised perfectly above the sandy shores of our adventures…

  2. Pingback: Fotografo | Pictorialist | Raconteur | Above the Line

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