Gregory Deane is the quintessential West
Coast artist. He was born in Oregon and moved to California
as a teenager. Even as a child he was fascinated with color
arrangements and textures, and excelled at art from an early
age, beginning with portraits and character studies. Design
school later attracted him to San Francisco, and he began his
working life in the design field. All the while he painted,
selling his paintings to clients who would buy them.
Shortly after he married his wife Margo,
Deane's design work began to take a back seat to his art, and
36 years ago he decided to devote his full attention to painting.
Deane specializes in abstract and nonobjective painting, where
a brush stroke here or a rubbed or dabbed paint streak there
might suggest different things to different viewers. With allusion
and visual suggestion comes artistic meaning. "The emotion
in my work often comes from somewhere deep down, and can speak
to the inner part of each person," Deane believes. "I
have certain things in my mind when I create each piece, perhaps
the emotion of joy or tranquillity when I choose my colors,
or perhaps the influence of the Orient or an obscure European
tradition when I layer in bits of paper or gold leaf. This is
new art, but tradition is frequently there too."
In the spirit of abstraction, though, the viewer is free to
interpret each piece as he or she wishes. "I've found,"
Deane says, "that a good painting is one you can internalize,
one in which a given element or the work as a whole means something
special to you - perhaps in ways you might not admit to another
person." This is how the artist's passion reaches the viewer,
through personal interpretation.
"My influences are many," Deane
reports. "Paul Jenkins, for example; his colors are magnificent
- they flow and blend and give me a high-spirited feeling."
He also admires Robert Rauschenberg and Franz Kline. "The
poetry of life is my greatest influence, though," Deane
says, and you see it in the symphonic expression of his paintings.
Gregory Deane's expressionism has recently taken a turn toward
mixed media. "By including a photograph or words from a
newspaper, bits of tissue paper or whatever might be at hand,"
the artist reports, "I can evoke a grounding feeling of
place, whether it's an African jungle or a Chinese market."
Deane's new inspiration arises from recent travels to China,
Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Italy.
Viewers have responded to this development in his work as enthusiastically
as they have to his previous artistic explorations. He held
his first solo abstract show in 1977 in Honolulu,and has since
had many showings of his critically acclaimed expressionist
work, most recently a one-man exhibition at the Accademia delle
Arti del Designo in Florence, Italy. Deane is the first American
artist to be honored with a show at the Accademia, which was
founded by Michelangelo. Deane's work is regularly featured
in major galleries throughout the United States and Europe,
and appears in private collections around the world.
The artists work ranges from large to
small - sixteen feet wide by ten feet high, or three by five
inches in size. The result can be a feeling of being overwhelmed,
or a silent moment of intimacy. Whatever the size, color is
carefully controlled, whether vibrant or monochromatic. Each
of Deane's paintings catches the imagination.
Ultimately, Gregory Deane's work reflects
life. "Life has it's many changes, as do the hands of the
painter," he says. "Some artists choose to paint the
dark side of their existence, and that is their choice if that
is all they wish to see. I've chosen to try to paint many moods
and to evoke a feeling with my work - of joy, quiet reflection,
excitement, sobriety - so observers can create the feeling they
wish to have. Each viewer can make this art what he or she wants
it to be.