This show has a lot to do with failure and potential, accident and intention, and time at its most minute and most infinite. It’s about how powerful a single simple gesture can be.
Gagosian is pleased to present Dan Colen’s first major solo exhibition in New York. This follows his two-part exhibition “I Live There”/“An Allegory of Faith” at Gagosian Gallery Davies Street in 2009 and the surreptitious exhibition “Potty Mouth Potty War” in the bathrooms of Gagosian Gallery West 24th Street in 2006.
Drawing from mass media, local environment, and subculture, Colen’s art imbues the ordinary, the disenfranchised, and the tribal with provocative new status. Working from personal experience with subjects overlooked or considered rogue and delinquent by art and society, he explores the very essence of dichotomy through risk and affect, juggling immediacy of expression with technical perfection. Slipperiness of meaning results in his painstaking reconstruction of ‘what might have been’; in paintings whose apparent incidental qualities—from showered confetti and heavily accreted bird droppings to scrawled song lyrics, random thoughts, and absurd slogans—are, in fact, the result of expert and painstaking brush technique over equally obsessively crafted surfaces; in sculptures that feign the inadvertent monuments and sites on which popular culture inscribes its voices and traces; and in the inverse play of editing, subcontracting, stealing, and transposing.
In this exhibition, Colen adds a further layer of complexity to his meditations on the mimetic nature of art by moving even closer to the reality from which he has always drawn inspiration. Real life, with its social habits and strong aesthetic preferences, seems to be so perfectly and potently designed that the only possible role open to him is as choreographer of single, bold, and exquisite acts of transformation. The scale of his new works and the spaces that house them befit this more resolute embrace of reality and its uncertainties.
In his fervent yet exacting approach to making and staging art, Colen continues to cultivate the marriage of spectacle and pure chance in relation to the materiality of the readymade and Minimalist object. His self-conscious stance, which combines vivid lived experience with aesthetic purposefulness arising from an equally vivid perspective on the freight of art history, allows viewers to share in unexpected moments of transcendence. With “Poetry,” Colen widens and deepens the space in which to reflect on immanence, faith, and doubt in the world today.
Dan Colen was born in New Jersey in 1979. He graduated with a BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design in 2001. Exhibitions include the 2006 Whitney Biennial, New York; “USA Today,” The Royal Academy, London; “Defamation of Character,” PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island, New York; and “Fantastic Politics,” The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo.
Colen lives and works in New York City.
From the Quarterly
The Bigger Picture
Free Arts NYC
Meredith Mendelsohn discusses the impact of Free Arts NYC and its mission to foster creativity in children and teens, on the occasion of its twenty-year anniversary.
Dan Colen and Ali Subotnick
Dan Colen speaks with Ali Subotnick on the occasion of his exhibition, Dan Colen: Sweet Liberty, at the Newport Street Gallery in London.
The Bigger Picture
Derek Blasberg speaks with Diane Brown, president and founder of RxArt, and with contributing artists Dan Colen, Urs Fischer, and Jeff Koons about the transformative power of visual art.
Dan Colen: The Bowery School
In this video from the Louisiana Channel, Dan Colen sits down to talk about friends like Ryan McGinley and Dash Snow, and how his art developed to a place of celebration.