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Close Encounters with Art – Liam Dean #9 at Knapp Gallery


Never in my life has a painting brought me to tears, until #9 by Liam Dean. I stood in front of this vortex masquerading as a painting, frozen and consumed by an orchestra of exquisitely deep and rich orange, red, browns and yellows sparkling like melted glass and menacingly closing in on a central amoeba-shaped floating form claiming to be under constant attack but unafraid and sending me urgent whispers — about supernatural abortions committed by both good and evil; about aborted ideas of escaping the prison of duality, for no matter how good you are, good only exists because of evil and the same for evil–they are twins with contrary dispositions but sourced from the same DNA.

Liam Dean, #9

This painting was behaving like a wise but dangerous orphan tugging at my pant leg begging for a home. Our silent exchange opened the flood gates, standing there in a puddle of my own tears (or fears), pleading with this painting to let me go. I was only window shopping and certainly didn’t have the resources for a red dot. I was also concerned about not knowing how this damn thing was making me cry. Its insistence kept me firmly planted in its presence, bribing me with a few ancient secrets of its vast empire (while it fed off my emotions).

I closed my eyes in an attempt not to see, not to think, not to feel, but scenes of struggle persisted in my mind’s eye, murky images of conception, birth and death each trying to hold the others back, fighting for my attention in an attempt to get me in formation. The gallery assistant came up to me at this point and asked if she could help me with anything, and I answered “no thanks” without turning around to face her, ashamed of my vulnerability. This painting wanted out and so did I (out of this gallery); instead I sat down and tried to reason with this pushy thing, asking it feeble questions like “why me?”

It responded with one sound that I could hardly make out as a word, “bloodlines,” which should’ve had me screaming and running out of the gallery with the abandon of a mad man thrashing onto the streets rushing towards comforts, but I stayed, trying to absorb the aesthetic qualities of this painting while ignoring its suspicious voice absent of vibrations. Was I from a Luciferian bloodline? Or was this painting trying to get closer to someone in my life who was, via me?

Performing art has always had more of an ability to pull emotional tears, with all of its sensory accessories (sound, light and movement) but a piece of visual art has to work much harder to reach these depths of emotions within a human being. # 9 succeeds.

This was a living thing with a knowing confidence and the ability to project truth and lies sandwiched into the mind, with or without my consent. I had no idea what the title–of this show or of painting #9–was called; I only knew what it felt like from our pathetic telepathic conversation. I should have left at this point, but no, I had to seek out its name. The title of this painting is “Devil.” June 11, 2011- I Corey Armpriester had a conversation with the “Devil,” and he was charming, brutal and full of promises; I left the gallery a transformed man, knowing art too works in mysterious ways.

I went back to the gallery a few weeks later and discovered this painting was in someone’s home for four days (during the exhibition) and then returned to the gallery from the potential buyer on the grounds that it was too dark for the family.

Alchemy 101, the solo exhibit by Liam Dean @ Knapp Gallery, closed June 26, 2011.