Artist of the Week

Dmitri Obergfell

April 15, 2013

Dmitri Obergfell is an artist based in Denver, Colorado. He earned his BFA from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in 2010.  His currently has a solo exhibition at Galleria Upp in Venice.


How did your interest in art begin? Art making is something I have always been bound to and it has changed and developed with me as I grow.

What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? The idea generally determines the material I use. The most consistant part of my process is my obedience to the idea over the material. Rather than trying to make the materials conform to my idea, I try to find the most suitable material to express the idea. This concept-driven process often creates variation in material and form. As a result my work ranges in materials from things like graphite to inflatable balloons.


What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? I would like the viewer to have an experience that temporarily removes them from their ego and lets them consider a broader sense of being. Our egos are such a finite thing in relation to everything else and I would like to provide scenarios that illustrate that.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Right now I have a solo exhibition titled The Visigoths at Galleria Upp in Venice, Italy. The Visigoths exhibition is an exploration of concepts around the transition of culture. The works are Greco-Roman busts made of plaster and graphite. The busts are used as drawing tools to make marks on the gallery walls. In the performance of the piece the busts wear down as the graphite transitions into a drawing on the wall; the finished work, thus, is always erasing itself. Also, in August, I will have a residency at Vertigo Gallery in Denver that will end with a solo exhibition in the space. The title of the exhibition is By Hook or Crook.  The work will revolve around acts of delinquency and question the motives of these types of acts.


What are you really excited about right now? I am working on a new work that investigates the relationship between natural and human-made materials. I am essentially generating crystal patterns into rectilinear picture planes that will be 3D printed and mounted to the wall. I am working with NW Rapid Mfg in Portland to do the 3D printing. The 3D printed objects will ultimately become chrome-plated pieces that will appear to hover off of the wall. This is my first experience using 3D printing to execute a concept, I see a lot of potential projects that could develop from this process.

What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? I saw Alberto Scodro’s exhibition at Via Farini in Milan. It was a very poetic exhibition about nature being used to destroy itself. I also recently saw James Turrel’s new Skyspace at Rice University and the Rothko Chapel in tandem in Houston. My brother, Darius, had just passed so it was a very emotional and cathartic experience.

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What are your thoughts about the art scene in Denver? From my perspective, Denver has its ups and downs in relation to contemporary art. It is a cheap place to live and work with an amazing community of artists. I have a hard time imagining a more supportive community than Denver. Unfortunately, Denver artists don’t have much support outside of each other and it creates a glass ceiling. The city often feels like it is on the verge of turning into a special place for contemporary art but the infrastructure is not there to support the growth. My hope is that Denver will develop a more sophiscated collector base and institutions that will allow artists to grow and support themselves through their practice.


If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? I grew up on horse racing tracks in the western United States because my mother trains racehorses. My estranged father once told me he hoped that I would become a jockey. I don’t think I am built to be a jockey, but if things were different maybe I would be more involved with horse racing in some way.

Favorite music? My “favorite” music changes, but UGK is consistently in my rotation. Right now I am listening to several things from DJ ipodammo’s Trill City mix to Real Magic’s recent release, Deep Breathing.  The most inspiring thing I have been listening to lately is Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers. I’m not Christian, but I don’t know if there is anything better than listening to Sam Cooke sing about god.