Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dana Schutz

Thinker, 2008
Oil and acrylic on canvas
95.25 x 76 inches
241.9 x 193 cm

It's funny, I had mysteriously forgotten about one of my favorite contemporary/ young painters, Dana Schutz, and I caught her name in an art review I was perusing this morning.

Her new 2009 work is pretty funny: seen here at the Zach Feuer Gallery.

I'm really digging the patterns she's working into these paintings. The blue doodles in the background of this painting, Thinker (2008), are beautiful, and a handful of the other works have lovely repetitive motions and stripes worked into the canvas. Schutz is an incredibly talented and skilled artist, and I truly appreciate her composition, subject matter, and unabashed use of vivid color, but I think my favorite thing about her is that she has a sense of humor.

I first saw her work at the MOCA in Cleveland in 2006 (was it really that long ago?). It was a collection of her paintings from 2000-2006. There was a lot of self-referentialism (did I just make that word up? 'cuz I like it) and cannibalism, playing around with making the grotesque even more grotesque. Schutz's new works seem to come from a different part of her brain. They are more layered and nuanced paintings. The paint (although it's hard to really know this from online images) seems to lie flatter on the canvas, the features in her faces blend together more subtly (somehow this is even creepier?), and the twisting of the features starts to look a lot like Francis Bacon's faces.

Guitar Girl, 2009
Oil and acrylic on canvas with black velvet
60.25 x 48.25 inches
153 x 122.6 cm

But, like I said, most importantly for me, her work makes me laugh. She is drawing on traditions within painting in terms of subject matter, and blatantly poking fun at those traditions as well as herself as a painter. Those neon greens drive me nuts because I don't want to look at them, I don't want a technicolor assault on canvas, but I appreciate the neon simply because it balances everything else.

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