Guy Denning (born in Bristol, 1965), though only coming to greater attention in recent years, has in fact been painting consistently for over thirty years. He was repeatedly refused entry to study painting at the English colleges and universities he applied to through the eighties but undeterred he continued alone, making friendships with older painters who taught him aspects of technique, and pursued his own avenue of study in art history eventually gaining a degree from the Open University. A frequent criticism he faced when seeking a university place in the mid eighties was that his work focused too heavily on figurative representation of political subject matters and that his use of the photocopier as a tool was not appropriate for ‘Fine Art’. Denning took on board some of these criticisms and in 1990 he turned to abstraction, taking particular inspiration from the work of the American painter Franz Kline. This yielded little in terms of significant exhibitions, but a modest success in occasional sales. However, by the mid-nineties he considered himself to be ‘painting a dead aesthetic into a dead-end’ and he looked around for fresher ideas. At that time he was supporting his painting with a job in a stationery shop; it was here that he returned to the photocopier as a tool to work with. Simultaneously he left abstraction in favour of a return to both figuration and the depiction of sexual politics. Since that key change Denning has slowly returned to what could be considered a traditional painterly route with the contemporary, perhaps punk-inspired, twist of embedded collaged and stencilled text. This new aesthetic, blended with a political narrative, has found Denning a new audience in the collectors of urban art and he is now in a financially strong enough position to paint full-time. In 2007 he left his native Bristol for Brittany where he now lives and works.
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