ARTISTS COLLECTIVE | SPARTANBURG

Aphantasia: Visual Imagery Reimagined

Spartanburg modern abstract artist Craig Denesha says his exhibition, “Aphantasia: Visual Imagery Reimagined” in Gallery III of the Artists Collective | Spartanburg Aug. 2 through 25, will show visitors that “abstract art is for everyone.

“If you don’t think so, come to my show and give it a chance,” says of the exhibit of his acrylic paintings and mixed media. “While I painted these, it is up to you, the viewer, to develop your own experience and make your own interpretation. As you look at abstract art and search for that familiarity, you will find yourself thinking, ‘I like this, but I’m not sure why’ or the popular, ‘I can’t stop looking at this.’ To this I will remind you that it is ok to not know why you like what you like. It is part of the experience. You can still have that experience even if you don’t like a particular work, interpreting what you don’t like about it rather than simply dismissing it.”

Denesha, a native of New York, came to Spartanburg after finishing graduate school and accepting a position at a local college teaching anatomy and physiology. “I am a scientist who uses abstract art to let myself out of the logic and restraint imposed by science, but it is also a source of inspiration. I have spent over 20 years looking through microscopes and that influence can be found in my paintings.

“I am an abstract artist who is unable to see images in my head," he says of how his works are inspired. “Because of this, I never know what a painting will look like until it is finished. I am unable to see the end result. The notion of visualizing a painting before it is painted is foreign to me. I put paint on the canvas and push it around until I like what I see.

“When I close my eyes it's blank,” Denesha continues. “I can't even see a painting I am working on that is right in front of me. Now, I can tell you what an apple looks like, but I can't visualize it. I was shocked when I found out that people could actually see things when they close their eyes."

Denesha says when he finishes a painting, “it is the first time I have ever seen a work of art like it. This is the meaning behind the title for my show. This exhibit is the only way for me to see the art in my head and at the same time share it with everyone else.

“As an artist, I create art for me and by doing that I create art for you,” he adds. “So, the works of art I make allow me to actually see something that I would otherwise never get to see. For me, if you already know what something will look like when it is finished, what is the point of doing it? I guess that’s the advantage I have by not being able to see it in my head.”

Visitors to the exhibition should “keep in mind that it is not necessary for abstract art to have a meaning or a resemblance. It is supposed to get you to open your mind and free yourself from constraints of what you have been told you should see when you view art. There are no rules in abstract art. You will not be violating any rules of art if you like it.

“We as humans are always trying to compare what we are seeing with what we are familiar with, trying to force what we are viewing to be something we are able to recognize,” Denesha says. “If you can get yourself to move past trying to find something recognizable, perhaps you will experience more than you think.”

Denesha says being a founding member of the Artists Collective | Spartanburg means “there would have been no other place for my first solo exhibit except at ACS. There is truly no other place like this in the area. This place is unique, and I get to be a part of it.” The 20 works in the show will be available for purchase, with prices starting at $75.

An artist’s reception will be held Thursday, Aug. 18 in conjunction with Spartanburg ArtWalk.

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