Denis De Gloire - Painter action painting abstract expressionism color fields geometric abstraction contemporary art - Waregem - West-Vlaanderen


aboutDenis de Gloire by Joan Altabe, National Examiner art critic.

Striving to be a latter-day Jackson Pollock, Denis de Gloire paints as if he were him. Such striving is an art history tradition. And before I go on to discuss his picture-making, a quick look at the history of copying is needed here because De Gloire’s efforts get short shrift from my fellow critics who, I suspect, forget this history.

Chronicles about artists copying from one another are as old as the Seven Hills of Rome when sculptors of the ancient empire borrowed freely from the Greeks. Michelangelo continued the practice when he carved a Cupid in the manner of a Roman relic and buried it in a garden for the dug-up look of antiquity. And Marcantonio Raimondi mimicked Albrecht Dürer even down to his initials – “A. D.”

Then there was Francis Bacon who borrowed from Velázquez's portrait of Pope Innocent X for his own rendition. Picasso borrowed from Velasquez’ “Las Menines” to make 44 “studies” - down to the same title. And Van Gogh borrowed from 21 paintings by Jean Francois Millet.
Artists have been mimicking one another for so long that by now it’s a cottage industry of rehashed imagery from the past called Post-Modernism. One might go so far as to call contemporary art world what it is – a recycling bin.
And much of this recycling has garnered praise from critics.


When painter Mike Bidlo copied 84 Picasso paintings out of a book and rationalized, "Everything is mine, except the form," art critic Kim Levin of New York's “The Village Voice'' hailed Bidlo’s effort: “Biddle rematerializes trite reproductions back into works of art.'' And Art in America magazine hailed Bidlo’s imitations as "honest, middle-class respect for a modern classic."

Such copying goes on even despite an American copyright law that not only bans copying but also bans works based on those of others. Lichtenstein’s "sketch books,” full of another’s published cartoons that he amassed to enlarge and paint, make a clear case against him. But, he was never sued for copyright infringement.  And Sherrie Levine who re-photographed photographs by Edward Weston and Walker Evans and exhibited them as her own also escaped law suits. Jeff Koons, the art world’s ace appropriator, wasn’t so lucky. He has been sued four times for copyright infringement.

In contrast, De Gloire, who has been simulating Jackson Pollock for 10 years, goes without critical attention. His "tribute to Pollock" for Pollock’s 100th anniversary in 2012 won significant popular support but failed to garner any art world attention. As he described it, “We had 4000 people visiting the expo. We sold more than 30 canvasses and the reactions were very positive, except from the press. They did not come. This hurt me very much.”

In this critic’s opinion, De Gloire warrants serious art world attention for two reasons. One, he is open about what he’s doing. He doesn’t deceive his collectors. Two, he seems to have picked up where Pollock left off and done him better.

While using Pollock’s tight webs of linear arabesques with no single emphasis, De Gloire avoids overlaying his picture plane, wall paper-style, as Pollock does. In that way, De Gloire lets his imagery breathe and makes room for viewers to enter his painting.

And this must be said of De  Gloire’s Pollock-like configurations: They’re more lace-like, more graceful, with the result that they come across more lyrical and more elegant than Pollock’s. De  Gloire’s also bests Pollock by brightening his palette – as he explains, “Because for me he made a lot of "dirty splashes" which I did not like.”

One aspect about De Gloire’s work that is vintage Pollock and wholly unintended is his creative process. A recent scientific analysis of the drying time for a particular layer or color in Pollock’s mountainous painting "Mural" indicates that it wasn’t a one-shot job as long thought,  that there was an underlying composition from which Pollock worked out his painting in stages, beginning with s diluted pigment first draft.

This news contradicts the Pollock myth that “Mural” came to him in some feverish,  automatic-writing-like session. Instead, the painting unfolded over a period of time – days, maybe weeks.
De Gloire description of his process makes clear that his is like Pollock’s: “I start with deciding the measures and the main colors. After the first layer of color which stays dominant after all comes the aluminum paint splashes ( this always as a connection, as a tribute to Jackson). From then on becomes color after color but also mistake after mistake which every time I have to correct. This "battle" of correcting my mistakes makes it surprising and fascinating result. Of course these paintings are built up in several sessions (mostly 4 ) because I have to respect drying times. My paints have to be sticky and  elastic before I start a next session then the result looks like created one in each other and not layer on layer.
If my fellow critics disregard De Gloire because he mimics Pollock, they need to reconsider all their praising of copycats like Lichtenstein, Levine and Bidlo. They also need to see that despite similarities to Pollock, De Gloire’s work stands on its own.