DAN COLEN: Miracle Paintings
Tuesday, September 2–Saturday, October 18, 2014
Opening reception: Tuesday, September 16th, from 6:00 to 8:00pm
I wanted these paintings to reveal themselves during the making, similar to how the trash paintings came to be. I was thinking about alchemy. So there’s this juggling act; I’m starting and often ending with an image, but the oil paint and the process of using that oil paint will open up the possibility for the artwork to take a new direction.
Gagosian is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by Dan Colen.
The Miracle paintings continue an investigation that has been central to Colen’s practice from the outset: to what extent does art come from the artist, and to what extent does it arise from forces independent of the artist? In his earliest paintings, Colen labored over precise oil renderings of banal interiors—a sloppy apartment bathroom, an adolescent bedroom, a camping tent—into which he introduced the presence of the supernatural—the Blue Fairy, Jesus Christ, twinkling cherubs, his deceased grandfather. He describes the subsequent series of Candle paintings as “portraits of God.” In these works, the space of the canvas contains the space of Geppetto’s worktable—where Pinocchio transcends his materiality to become real—and a message appears in the smoke left by a just-extinguished candle flame.
In 2006, Colen started to make paintings with chewing gum instead of paint, ushering in a long period during which he traded representational subject matter for an exploration of the medium itself. Using flowers, dirt, grass, tar and feathers, Mylar confetti, street trash, and readymade metal studs, he relinquished his controlling approach to painting, instead allowing the final result to be guided in large part by the behavior of the given material. He commented that he found the loss of control exciting, as if the paintings were taking on “inevitable forms—almost like destined forms.”