The intersecting geometries of fire, water, industrial installations, and the woods form the base for Dennis Pinette’s paintings. His work is defined by improvisation layered over direct observation. Four old buildings overlooking Penobscot Bay serve as home and studio. His wife Megan is president of the Belfast Historical Society and Museum. Their son Evan is a mariner and musician.
Mr. Pinette’s subject is landscape, brutal landscape: terrain deformed with factories or ledges molten from brush fires, forest floors painfully orange with dead leaves, waves cresting into sucking holes. He does not paint specific places as much as a complex of emotion and energy; his landscapes become fictions, concentrated and ambivalent, located beyond the real world. “I like my work best when it is on the edge of disintegrating,” he said in a recent conversation, “when the subject almost disappears, as if the subject is an excuse to paint a dream.” (His) work, charged with the ecstasy of recording the visual world, is tied to the romantic tradition. But his landscapes emerge as a state of mind.
“I paint two intersecting geometries,” he said. “The hand of man and the hand of nature.” Within that tension he locates the sublime.
~Deborah Weisgall. The New York Times, feature article excerpt 9/21/2003
Pinette is restless by nature, and it is no surprise that he is drawn to painting the Maine woods during the fall season when it undergoes its greatest span of change…there are no beginnings and endings in these works. They are consciously, acutely, not narrative. They demand the immediacy of impressionism, the knowledge of formalism, and the freedom of abstract expressionism held within the grasp of a romantic spirit for their fruition.
~Suzette Lane McAvoy. The Restless Season, essay excerpt. Caldbeck Gallery 2002
For years he has sought out the invisible things in plain view; power plants, moldering heavy equipment, and, more recently, houses on fire. In his excellent solo show at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland, he has turned less to the specifics of a late industrial presence on the land and more toward the elemental character of nature. The cumulative effect of the forty-odd pictures that make up this show is that they were done by a mature artist who is at the top of his form. They are works of a distinct identity.
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