Cubism, impressionism, pointillism, plateism—familiar terms, except for the last. “It’s the next place for art to go,” jokes Lance Dehné, referring to his own technique.
Clean-shaven and neatly dressed, Dehné looks like the engineer he was trained to be rather than an artist who creates whimsical works.
“Ballerina,” one of a planned series of 110 vocations, is Dehné's most detailed expression of plateism. In this oil painting, colored plates—not food plates, but rather puzzle-like templates of various sizes and shapes—replace the ballerina’s joints and body parts. It is abstract, playful and fanciful.
“I have simplified it greatly in the other works,” Dehné says alluding to more recent works like “Beautician” or “Cardshark.” “I don’t have as many elements … I want to let the viewer’s imagination envision movement. The idea is either to show what the figure is potentially going to do, is in the middle of doing, or has finished doing.”
Visitors to Dehné's home and gallery in southwest Reno can still view S3 (salvaged silk screens), his most recent show. A group of 63 unframed, abstract oil paintings, each approximately 8.5-by-11 inches, is strung across the walls of the downstairs rooms.
Dehné originally created 200 silk-screen pieces, but they didn’t have the effect he wanted. Still, he salvaged some, and with a squeegee, he created new colors to cover the silk screens.
“Mine are sophisticated colors,” Dehné says. “I enjoy the off-white with a hint of color. It wouldn’t be light blue; it would be light, light, light blue. To balance it off, I added bold colors. I knew where things were to exploit. I knew somewhere in the center [of the original silk screen] was a little red ball. I took a rag and rubbed off the paint. After that, I added a few lines here and maybe a pencil mark there.”
His goal was to do something fast and to have fun.
Attendees at Dehné's show were challenged to find four works that were different from all the others. The largest and the one in which he spread the paint to the edge of the paper were easiest to spot. Finding the others took a keener eye.
Dehné creates jigsaw puzzles from giclee reproductions of works like “Ballerina” pasted to a one-eighth-inch-thick pieces of Baltic birch. Since each piece is cut out with a scroll saw, no two have the same shape—"Everyone who comes in likes to play with these,” he says.
The piece “Night Room” evokes works by Paul Klee or Joan Miró. Initially frustrated by where this piece was going, Dehné says, “I decided to stir up the pot a little bit, so I cut out [plates] and put the canvas on top of another. Then I had these blank spaces.”
He painted the empty spaces red, yellow, green and shades of blue. The top canvas was painted black. A blue knob—jutting out a distance equal to the space between the two canvases—adds more dimension. As in his S3 series, Dehné rubbed off paint or added lines.
Visitors to his Web site, www.artineering.com, are welcomed by puzzle pieces that gradually work their way into a picture, as well as a recipe that Dehné claims is delicious.
“I just want you to convey the fun nature of the art," he says. "It’s like a shop with lots of inquisitive and quirky things going on, not intimidating by anything serious."