Dean West: Yearning for the endangered rainforest
Perhaps somewhat inspired by Thomas Struth’s series “Paradise”, Dean West set out to document the intensity of the temperated forests of the Pacific North West, in the US with this stunning series entitled “Olympia”. Being very aware of how precious and less and less accessible a patch of nature has become to our city dwellers, in a society which is also consuming the world’s natural resources at an alarming pace, Dean wanted to very consciously take in every single luscious detail he could capture in these forests, and preserve them in super large scale limited edition wall prints, creating the most hyper real, engulfing effect on the viewer. Where Struth’s intentions and effects were more cerebral, West’s series is very different from this and much more “experiential”, with an almost physical and immediate impact on us. Impressive stuff whichever angle you look at it from.
Dean West: Dean West’s LEGO project inside the Openhouse Gallery NY
We already reported on the collaboration between young Australian photographer Dean WEST and Lego artist Nathan Sawaya. Now the Openhouse Gallery, Mulberry Street, New York exhibits their joint art project ‘In Pieces’ for the first time.
The preparation that went into the project was meticulous and took years. Dean travelled all across the USA in search for the most authentic everyday scenarios. He found the perfect motifs in California, Utah, Nevada and New York. The results are ‘Hopper-esque’ daily life situations that, in combination with Nathan’s pixelated Lego objects, are so heightened in style they seem familiar and strange at the same time.
The gallery context elevates this impression even more. Whereas Nathan’s Lego objects were only really visible on third or fourth glance, they are now supersized and have developed a life of their own, literally coming out of the photographs.
A white Lego cloud not just floats above a motel somewhere in Utah, but right here, in 3D, from the gallery ceiling. The blue flip-flops look as though they’ve been forgotten on the white plinth. And the red Lego dress seems to blow in the wind so realistically that you can’t help but duck so as not to get blown away too. This play with perspectives and identity is carried out so perfectly, that the viewer kind of feels like a modern Alice in Legoland.
Dean West: Laurels for Dean
Having already been hailed as the world’s best emerging photographer and bagging ABC’s international photography prize, Dean WEST has yet another magazine singing his praises. This time it’s fotoMAGAZIN Edition.
The feature covers works spanning from his trampoline Medusa to the infamous Octopus attack. West’s work is often steeped in historical references – including for example Greek mythology, Renaissance symbolism and Freud’s dream theory.
With great theatrical skill, he weaves a tale into every inch of his canvas, ultimately creating a world that is ancient yet entirely new to us. The 29 year old photographer is worthy of every rave review he has garnered over his career so far, and as fotoMAGAZIN themselves put it: ‘Every Master stands on the shoulders of giants. Dean West is such a Master’.
Dean West: Lego or Reality?
Dean West’s latest photo series ‘In Pieces’ has been two years in the making and it’s been well worth the wait. This awe inspiring project came about from a collaboration with New York based artist Nathan Sawaya, whose painstakingly crafted sculptures have been seamlessly integrated into West’s work. At first glance, the large format photographs reveal highly stylized and utterly beautiful minimalist American landscapes.
However, upon closer inspection, we can see that an object within each scene is in fact made entirely of LEGO. Each image compels the viewer to visually deconstruct the work; what is real and what is LEGO? It leaves us questioning the nature of the world in the picture and, by extension, the world around us. The series not only delivers on a visual level but a conceptual one and is quite simply one of the most inspired collaborative projects of the past decade.
Dean West or: The art history strikes back.
If Hieronymus Bosch and Rembrandt could have children, then Dean West would be their illegitimate son. Somewhere between Bosch’s fantastical hellscapes and Rembrandt’s masterful use of light and dark lies the work of West. Whether it’s an avant-garde personal project or a commercial campaign, whether portrait or a meticulously composed setting: West draws from a seemingly endless repertoire of ideas, talent and visual drama. His Old Master parents must be very proud of him.