Plains Art Museum

Fargo, ND



Wild Beasts! Roy De Forest and Gaylen Hansen

March 30, 2000 - May 14, 2000


The exhibition "Wild Beasts! Roy De Forest and Gaylen Hansen" features paintings by Hansen and paintings, drawings and sculpture by De Forest. Both artists encourage people to be comfortable with and indeed playful around their art.

Visitors to this exhibition will be challenged by the dream-like (some would say nightmarish), colorful depictions of huge owls, cockatoos, dogs and other composite creatures. They embark on adventures, transforming the canvases into vital, shimmering, living environments. They beckon you to join them and to confront your inner frights and fears. Parents should view this exhibit prior to taking children through.

Roy De Forest was born in North Platte, Nebraska in 1930, but since his childhood has been a West Coast resident. He received his M.F.A. from San Francisco State College and has taught at many notable institutions of higher learning. He has had more than 150 solo and group exhibitions all over the world. His work is in the collections of many significant museums. (left: Roy De Forest, Lair of the Mysterious Hatbird, 1997, acrylic, mixed media)

De Forest uses brightly colored acrylics and features animals, especially dogs, in his work. Using the conventions of human figure painting with animals is, according to him, "the sort of art-historical parody that amuses me very much."

De Forest says, "For me, one of the most beautiful things about art is that it is one of the last strongholds of magic. It is one of the few areas of human activity in which it is possible to do something for which you might be otherwise locked up or incarcerated, especially if you were a politician and did what you can do in a painting."

Gaylen Hansen, like De Forest, features animals in his work and is also partial to dogs. "I find that . . . dogs are wonderful to look at . . . They don't need clothes, jewelry . . ." Hansen was born in 1921 on a farm in Garland, Utah and now lives in Palouse, Washington. These environments connect him to nature in a powerful way, now quite evident in his work. His outsize meat-eating tulips, gigantic trout and enormous locusts help depict the magical and often ridiculous happenings of a normal day. He says, "I think enchantment, exuberance, humor, are wonderful things to achieve if you can. Knowing all the hazards of life and all the tragic things that can happen, I think it's okay to create a sense of enchantment. If I can do that from time to time, it's great. That's a form of profundity, I suppose." (left: Gaylen Hansen, Kernal and Unicorn, 1998, oil on canvas)

Hansen attended Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, Utah State Agricultural College, the Art Barn School of Fine Arts and the Salt Lake City Art Center. He received an M.F.A. from the University of Southern California in 1953. He is now retired after 25 years of teaching art at Washington State University. His paintings have been exhibited in the United States, Germany and Japan. His work is in many art collections including the Seattle Art Museum and the Honolulu Academy of Arts. This exhibit was organized by Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, Great Falls, Montana and was made possible in part by grants from the Richard Florshiem Art Fund, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


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