“Since early 2008 I have organized my studio practice around the play Timon of Athens, written by William Shakespeare between 1605 and 1608. It is considered to be Shakespeare’s most difficult and obscure work, and is the only one of his plays not performed in his lifetime. I do not use this project to valorize failure. Rather, failed projects provide me with empty cultural bandwidth within which to house my own subjectivity. I am proceeding through the cast of characters listed in the dramatis personae beginning with the minor characters. For each character I produce distinct works based on contemporary associations. The final result will be a body of related artworks comprised of separately considered parts. The exhibition environment becomes a “stage” wherein the characters must visually and conceptually interact.
For Dolores I chose the characters Painter and Several Servants. The pieces for Painter are made by layering drawing and disparate painting techniques and finishing with a Polaroid—itself a painted illusion. The organizing principle for the Painter pieces is the “X” shape, since painting’s contested position within contemporary art begins from a state of cancellation. The works for the Servants are made to form smiling faces from manipulated component parts. The Servants must always be smiling, no matter the awkwardness of their rendering or their low source materials.
Timon of Athens is a failed play of contested authorship, bewildering technique, and a disputed relationship to the accepted canon. That is to say, it mirrors my own position within the art world very well.”
– Craig Drennen
Craig Drennen is an American artist living in Atlanta, GA. He is represented by Samsøn gallery in Boston and Saltworks gallery in Atlanta. His work has been reviewed in Artforum, Art in America, and The New York Times. He teaches at Georgia State University and serves as dean of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He is on the board of Art Papers magazine and has worked in the exhibition departments of the Guggenheim Museum, the Jewish Museum, and the International Center of Photography, among others. Since 2008 he has organized his studio practice around Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens.
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