David Denniston's current exhibit, paired with Athens-based painter Ron Kroutel, at Angela Meleca Gallery is a collection of detailed, striking figurative paintings that can be appreciated purely on an aesthetic level. But upon hearing Denniston speak about the emotions and personal story that served as the foundation for the series, the pieces gain an even larger gravitas.

David Denniston’s current exhibit, paired with Athens-based painter Ron Kroutel, at Angela Meleca Gallery is a collection of detailed, striking figurative paintings that can be appreciated purely on an aesthetic level. But upon hearing Denniston speak about the emotions and personal story that served as the foundation for the series, the pieces gain an even larger gravitas.

“I call them loose narratives. To me it started to progress with bringing my personal life into it. There have been some big changes that happened to me in the last three, four years as far as divorce, losing a job, drugs and all that good stuff. It just progressed into creating this mysterious story,” said Denniston, a 400 West Rich resident, during an interview at the downtown gallery.

For the last two years, Denniston has worked on this series, a diverse collection of portraits — in terms of size and sentiment — all featuring Franklinton resident Shibnum Blewett in various settings around the neighborhood. Denniston originally began painting Blewett merely as a model, but after a couple of completed paintings, he realized he could fully express the significant transitions he was going through in his personal life with a whole series.

Denniston initially found the difficult personal moments devastating, but as this series progressed over the years, he discovered a sense of freedom and creative self-determination. The viewer will clearly recognize the shift of emotion in Denniston’s oil paintings separated between “dark” and “light.” The lone piece that contains both visual elements is “Fuck You I’m Smiling,” what Denniston refers to as the “transition piece.”

“It was just like a weight lifted off of me, to do what I want and go for it. Nothing was holding me back. All my painting up to that point had been darker and after ‘Fuck You I’m Smiling’ it transitioned from darker to light,” Denniston said.

Denniston is a self-described sensitive, shy guy, who says “painting is an introverted way of expressing myself,” which leaves quite an impact on the viewer.

Photos by Meghan Ralston