What if someone suggested to you that tattoo artists, fine artists, and collectors all have much in common? Whether your reaction to that is positive or negative, opinions may change after this exhibition.
Abend Gallery in Denver, Colorado, has recently opened a fascinating exhibition that explores two seemingly dissimilar artistic disciplines: painting and tattooing. For a long time in American culture, tattooing has been framed in a negative light, i.e., that terrible mistake you made in defiance of your parents in college, or the lovely portrait of your now ex-partner etched forever into your thigh. Be that as it may, there are thousands of tattoo artists around the country who are supremely gifted artistically. Moreover, those who get tattoos often do so to satisfy aesthetic and adornment needs similar to those of fine art collectors — at least, in the mind of exhibition organizers.

Derek Harrison, “Pink Gloves,” oil, 14 x 11 in. (c) Abend Gallery 2016

“Nexus” is a revealing group exhibition of works from 34 acclaimed painters, including  Jeremy Mann, Teresa Oaxaca, Julio Reyes, Vincent Xeus, and Adrian Gottlieb. The aim of the show, which opened on April 8, is to draw parallels between painting, tattooing, and collecting in ways never before explored. The gallery suggests, “Tattoo and painting, as different as their consumer demographics are, satisfy the same needs in their enthusiasts: the need for beauty, for adornment, for personal meaning, for longevity. Like acquiring a painting, acquiring a tattoo must mean the acquisition of an aesthetic and well-crafted work of art that will last a lifetime.”

Teresa Oaxaca, “Carousel,” oil, 25 x 37 in. (c) Abend Gallery 2016

Although some may find tattooing distasteful and, perhaps, intimidating, the practice has a deeply rooted tradition and subculture that has influenced artists for generations, including those artists featured in the exhibition. Continuing, the gallery writes, “The works in this show are all paintings by fine artists who have been influenced by tattoo culture and the imagery intrinsic to that culture; by tattoo artists who wield paintbrushes, and by several individuals who have successfully made a dual career out of both painting and tattooing. In these paintings one can witness the influence and crossover between the two mediums and subcultures.”
“Nexus” will hang through May 7. To learn more, visit Abend Gallery.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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