Artist VIPs 2012: Dennis Leri

dennis Leri
sculptor
east hampton

We keep exploring—if you’re worth your salt—and that means you explore materials.”

metal sculpture can be intimidating. what is it about, really? in the case of this sculptor’s metal assemblies, it’s about balance. and harmony. ditto the wood pieces. there are no outcasts here.

“i bumped into steel…and how steel works. and how to talk to it and how it talks to me…materials give me a language to speak in. and i’m trying to relate my world to the rest of the world…i’m an urban guy. i lived in the city till i was 50 years old. everything i am is about that.”

insights (paraphrased):

burnt offerings: it’s an almost serendipitous thing. you have all these materials in a box on the floor. and you start putting things together. 90 percent of art is the creative part…the intuitive part is the dominant force.

urban cadence: nyc is interesting to me [because] it’s made up of many parts. many people, many cultures, many religions…there are these odd shapes, but they go together. that’s what makes urban cadence. we’re all going together.

50s car series: the 50s were about optimism. and then everything was aluminum. it felt so wonderful to go back in time, to feel that “anything can happen.”

but what really makes this artist special? what makes his work surprising? “everything is about relationships. if you follow one angle it would be odd, but the other angle compensates…if the composition is good, it’ll look good any way you turn it…if you don’t say ‘what if’ you stay status quo…art is about process, not product.”

“abstraction in its purest form has nothing to do with any shape in nature. and yet we keep seeing things because we see emotional things…it takes courage to look at an abstract work
and really get into it because you reveal yourself.”

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“55 ford goldenrod yellow”, “urban cadence #5”

all photos this spread: tom fitzgerald