Dennis Lee Mitchell                

"Smoke on Paper" May 2015


Kansas City, Mo. On Friday, May 1, 2015, the Todd Weiner Gallery will host a reception for “Smoke On Paper: Recent Smoke Drawings” by Dennis Lee Mitchell.

Ethereal strokes of smoke touch the paper and create calm and intimate subjects in artist Dennis Lee Mitchell’sdrawings. His delicate materials provide a sense of vulnerability through his voluntary and unforced process. “Secrets don’t make art, it’s simply smoke applied to the surface of paper” explains Mitchell about his pieces. Although not secretive or simple, his smoke works challenge a sense of mystery to the artist and audience. Mitchell is more than willing to confront this mystery through this medium because he understands the materials are not solid or concrete but more referential.

Mitchell typically makes 75-100 works per final piece. He describes his mental process as beginning intent for the subject matter, which he learns through several unworthy works. He can’t hold onto his intent and once he releases himself from that there will be one out of the 75 that feels right. The artist’s internalizing method is connected to the material process and with his release; the mystery of the subject matter evolves. He describes his material, smoke, as identifying with the human form and he believes there is mystery that comes from that as well.

Mitchell welcomes the lack of control with smoke, he says, “There comes a point where I want it out of my hands so there’s another part played by chance and it doesn’t need to be large but it has to be a significant part of the work.” Mitchell came across the use of smoke as a medium through happenstance. When he first put smoke to paper he felt the power and potential lying on the page and the viewer can see that as well.

The absolute delicacy of the material emanates off of the paper. As seen in “Untitled 93” the spiral radiates beauty through the fragility seen from the dark black edge to the corresponding lighter end. The organic process comes to view in a flower-like bloom from the center to the outer periphery; looking almost like color blooming under water as each part of the spiral bleeds into the next. “Untitled 93” also evokes a sense of motion through the wavy intertwining gradation of black smoke. This work, like many in the exhibition “Smoke On Paper: Recent Smoke Drawings” by Dennis Lee Mitchell, share the elegance of the smoke while emanating the intriguing sense of mystery through chance subject matter.

Smoke On Paper: Recent Smoke Drawings” by Dennis Lee Mitchell will be on view at TWG May 1– May 30, 2015. The May reception will be held from 5:00-10:00 pm, First Friday May 1, 2015, at 115 West 18th St, Kansas City, Mo., 64108. Gallery Hours: W-F 11:00 am-5: 30 pm and Saturday 11:00 am-3:00pm.