Oil paint and cold wax are certainly not the most conventional of mediums, but Dennis Greer was able to marry them beautifully to canvas in his stirring yet meditative “Reflection” exhibition, which finished its run at UFV’s S’elyemtaxwtexw Gallery on September 22.
“The expansiveness and the quiet energy of coastal British Columbia are strongly evident in the imagery and the muted palette of these recent paintings,” said Greer when asked about his inspiration. “For the past few years my work has become more introspective and philosophical, with less emphasis being put on the literal depiction of the landscape and more on the feelings evoked by the experience.”
Experience is something Greer is certainly not lacking. He received his post-secondary education at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and Sheridan College of Art and Design in Oakville Ontario, and has been employed as an illustrator and graphic designer, as well as a museum display artist. Before coming to UFV, his teaching experience included Vancouver Community College, the Blanche MacDonald Centre and Design, and Emily Carr University of Art in Vancouver. He also has over fifteen years of experience as an Artistic Coordinator for WorkSafeBC where he designed and illustrated various safety related manuals, posters, and articles.
This exhibition, however, is far removed from government-issued safety guidelines. It demonstrates Greer’s personalized style, one that translates and interprets nature and iconography through saturated layers of transparent glazes. This art is a transformative interpretation and evokes the emotion, memory, and essence of the West Coast landscape.
The purpose of using cold wax as a medium with oil paint is to achieve a translucent quality to the atmospheric pieces, he explained.
“I have been strongly influenced and inspired by the work of the mid-19th century English landscape painter Joseph Mallord William Turner and by the late 20th century American abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko,” he said, “as well as many contemporary painters and photographers, including my colleagues and students at UFV.”
Greer believes that artists exist in society because there is a need to observe, reflect, and express truthfully in order to contribute something new and valuable to the collective consciousness. He advises the students at UFV to not be afraid of making mistakes, thereby opening yourself up to new creative possibilities; the rewards are worth it.
“I’ve been incredibly humbled by the positive response to my exhibition, both from students and colleagues,” Greer said. “I’m grateful for all of the comments and philosophical discussions prompted by the show. It’s been a good experience.”