Roma Gallery presents 11 large-scale wall-mounted artworks by the great American artist Dennis Oppenheim, from 5 May to 4 June 2022, in an exhibition curated by Dimitris Trikas. A towering figure in American conceptual art and beyond, Oppenheim takes innocent signifiers of everyday life and twists them into meanings of death, sickness, horror – or simply agonising doubt. The dialectic relationship between form and content triggers a new conversation, charges with new meaning the signifier-signified relationship. In the unsettling Virus (1989), for instance, small cast plaster figures of Mickey Mouse mounted on aluminium rods, suggest – rather than alluding to the popular amusement park or evoking a happy tune from The Sound of Music – the structural model of the molecules of a threatening virus. How prophetic, indeed! In Thought… he evokes a landscape of danger (war?) by constructing a cluster of bones (Ezekiel’s “dry bones”?) that end in double-edged blades, resembling “fingers of fear” that threaten thought, therefore life itself. Study for Second Generation features the ghost of a car lunging from the striped belly of a zebra. The terms “second generation” and “third generation” relate to the reading of objects and animals as beings transmitted from elsewhere, a suggestion of unreality reinforced by an Alice-in-Wonderland scale that makes household items exaggeratedly too big and larger objects too small. Scale is reversed even as meaning is reversed. The world turns unfamiliar, upended; instead of pleasure, playing produces discomfort, a sense of threat. The forms themselves are readily identifiable, but their abstracted surfaces render them generic and somewhat totemic.
Dennis Oppenheim was born in 1938 in Electric City, Washington. From 1966 until his death in 2011, he lived and worked in New York. During these four decades, Dennis Oppenheim’s art enlisted all available techniques and existing art forms – from writing, performance, video and photography to drawing, sculpture and installation. Oppenheim’s fascinating journey began with body art and land art in the epic mid-Sixties, arriving at a sarcastic and subversive commentary on contemporary life in the Eighties and Nineties, using toys – symbols of childhood innocence – and utilitarian objects that take on a new meaning in his hands. They build a soaring palace of subtle – and therefore all the more frightening – menace, which effectively undermines the joints and core of a prevalent, systemic consumerist complacency and a narcissistic individualism that sells illusions of security, prosperity and gratuitous pleasure. William Burroughs once said, with his unmistakable sarcasm: ‘No one owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.’ Oppenheim takes innocent signifiers of everyday life and twists them into meanings of death, sickness, horror – or simply agonising doubt. The dialectic relationship between form and content triggers a new conversation, charges with new meaning the signifier-signified relationship.

Dennis Oppenheim

Works 1981–1989: Towards a Prophetic Sculpture

Curated by Dimitris Trikas

Duration:
05.05 – 04.06.2022

 

“Study for Thought Bones. From Between the fingers of fear”, 1988 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 126,5 X 192,5 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris, 1989 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Thought Bones. From Between the fingers of fear”, 1988
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
126,5 X 192,5 cm

 

 

 

“Study for Hot Voices”, 1988 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 126X192,4 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Hot Voices”, 1988
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
126 x 192,4 cm
100 x 400 cm

 

 

 

“Study for Burnt Rainbow”, 1989 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 126,2 X 192,5 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Burnt Rainbow”, 1989
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
126,2 x 192,5 cm

 

 

“Study for Coffee Cup- Image fall out”, 1989 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 253,5 X 95,5 cm Exhibited: Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Coffee Cup- Image fall out”, 1989
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
253,5 x 95,5 cm

 

 

 

“Study for Waffle Maker”, 1988 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 192,5 X 126,2 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022


Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Waffle Maker”, 1988
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
192,5 x 126,2 cm

 

 

 

“Study for Spirit”, 1989 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 194 Χ 127 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Spirit”, 1989
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
194 x 127 cm

 

 

 

“Objects Dream of Flying Terminated by Collision”, 1989 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, silkscreen on paper 194 Χ 127 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Objects Dream of Flying Terminated by Collision”, 1989
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, silkscreen on paper
194 x 127 cm

 

 

 

“Study for Ghost Tantrums. Static Tremors”, 1989 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 194 Χ 127 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Ghost Tantrums. Static Tremors”, 1989
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
194 x 127 cm


 

 

“Study for Virus”, 1989 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 194 Χ 127 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Virus”, 1989
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
194 x 127 cm

 

 

“Second Generation Image. Zebra”, 1988 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 194 Χ 127 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Second Generation Image. Zebra”, 1988
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
194 x 127 cm

 

 

 

“Study for Crystal Tumor”, 1988 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, on paper 97 Χ 126 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris, 1989 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Crystal Tumor”, 1988
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, on paper
97 x 126 cm

Dennis Oppenheim

Works 1981–1989: Towards a Prophetic Sculpture

Curated by Dimitris Trikas

Duration:
05.05 – 04.06.2022

 

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Thought Bones. From Between the fingers of fear”, 1988
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
126,5 X 192,5 cm
“Study for Thought Bones. From Between the fingers of fear”, 1988 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 126,5 X 192,5 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris, 1989 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

 

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Hot Voices”, 1988
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
126 x 192,4 cm
“Study for Hot Voices”, 1988 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 126X192,4 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

 

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Burnt Rainbow”, 1989
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
126,2 x 192,5 cm
“Study for Burnt Rainbow”, 1989 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 126,2 X 192,5 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

 

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Coffee Cup- Image fall out”, 1989
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
253,5 x 95,5 cm
“Study for Coffee Cup- Image fall out”, 1989 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 253,5 X 95,5 cm Exhibited: Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

 

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Waffle Maker”, 1988
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
192,5 x 126,2 cm
“Study for Waffle Maker”, 1988 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 192,5 X 126,2 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

 

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Spirit”, 1989
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
194 x 127 cm
“Study for Spirit”, 1989 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 194 Χ 127 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

 

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Objects Dream of Flying Terminated by Collision”, 1989
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, silkscreen on paper
194 x 127 cm
“Objects Dream of Flying Terminated by Collision”, 1989 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, silkscreen on paper 194 Χ 127 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

 

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Ghost Tantrums. Static Tremors”, 1989
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
194 x 127 cm
“Study for Ghost Tantrums. Static Tremors”, 1989 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 194 Χ 127 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

 

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Virus”, 1989
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
194 x 127 cm
“Study for Virus”, 1989 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 194 Χ 127 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

 

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Second Generation Image. Zebra”, 1988
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper
194 x 127 cm
“Second Generation Image. Zebra”, 1988 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, luminescence on paper 194 Χ 127 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris , 1989 Pierides Museum, Athens, 1990 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022

Dennis Oppenheim
(1938-2011)
“Study for Crystal Tumor”, 1988
Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, on paper
97 x 126 cm
“Study for Crystal Tumor”, 1988 Pencil, colored pencil, oil wash, oil pastel, on paper 97 Χ 126 cm Exhibited: Paris Art Center, Paris, 1989 Roma Gallery, Athens, 2022