Brooklyn-based artist Kelly Denato works in a variety of industries and mediums. She works professionally in animation, illustration, and design with clients such as Nickelodeon, American Eagle Outfitters, Clinique, InStyle Magazine, and Timex. Denato also regularly exhibits her paintings, drawings, sculptures, and soft sculptures in galleries across the US.
What inspires Denato is the beauty of optimism, and its inherent tragedy, just before disappointment. Her paintings, which are marked by darkness as well as gleeful exuberance, are emotional expressions of this elusive pursuit for meaning and the simultaneity of ill-fated happiness.
Denato’s painting technique is characterized by meticulous and tiny strokes layered on a textured background. Her colors are glistening and candy-like, often lifting her characters out of darkness as if they have been carved by lacerating colors. Her genius is her ability to richly layer paint while still employing economy in the use of her line, maintaining an empathetic sense of gesture. Her characters are often floating and tangled, drawn with a masterfully delicate illustrator’s hand and an eye for the whimsically sardonic.
Denato’s process speaks to the surreal and fluctuating world that her subjects inhabit. In the artist’s words, “Everything starts with drawing. I will draw as often as possible in a kind of stream of consciousness. As patterns, imagery, and symbols begin to emerge, a theme presents itself. Like a Rorschach test of my own doodles, I interpret meaning from those symbols. Then I develop from there, symbols feeding into meaning and meaning into symbols in an infinite a loop.”
“I often feel like my characters are either floating out in space or being observed in a solution under a microscope. I’m always looking for ways to bring turbulence into my otherwise serene, gelatinous environments. The hair allows me to envelope or entangle my character as well as reach out into the rest of the environment from the main body of the composition. I’ve used other tools for this type of interaction; ghosts, tubes, tears, goop, but hair is definitely the most satisfying to paint. And, it gives me ample opportunity to paint with light, which is a large part of my work.” – Kelly Denato (Clutter Magazine)