Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art

Catalog Essay

Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art Catalog Essay

Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art Dennis Lee Mitchell. By: Victor M. Cassidy CHICAGO, IL.-

Dennis Lee Mitchell made wall-hung ceramic sculptures that recalled rotting tree branches. After forming a clay piece with his hands, the artist bisque fired it and then used a torch to melt and weld parts of it together. He colored the sculptures in browns and blacks with a torch whose flame held fixed to make it smoky. Mitchell next experimented with depositing carbon from a smoky blowtorch onto ceramic plates and sheets of paper. Working with the torch, he created black, rhythmic, semi-transparent imagery that suggested plants and the human figure. As he was gaining mastery over his technique, the artist discarded more than 90 percent of the paper works that he made, including some that caught on fire. Mitchell has opened fresh expressive territory. His works on paper in this exhibition have layered imagery in black tones that range from pale to dark. The outlines of his forms may be crisp or smudged. In some pieces, there are successions of comb-like lines that recall the flesh of fish. In others, we seem to be looking into infinite depth. Small flecks of carbon may be scattered at random on the paper. The artist leaves his works untitled and offers no explanation of the mysterious and compelling worlds that he has created.