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.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2023
The Spring 2023 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Roe Ethridge’s Two Kittens with Yarn Ball (2017–22) on its cover.
Dan Colen: Other Worlds Are Possible
In this interview, curator and artist K.O. Nnamdie speaks with artist Dan Colen about his recent show in New York: Lover, Lover, Lover. Colen delves into the concept of “home” as it relates to his work, specifically the Mother and Woodworker series. Thinking through the political and historical implications of “homeland” in the context of the artist’s relationship with Israel and America, the two consider the intersections between these paintings—the final group of his Disney-inspired canvases—and Colen’s work with Sky High Farm, New York.
Sky High Farm Symposium at Judd Foundation: The Art Panel
In this video, Deana Haggag, program officer, Arts and Culture at Mellon Foundation; Dan Colen, artist and founder of Sky High Farm; Linda Goode Bryant, artist and founder of Project EATS; and Diya Vij, curator at Creative Time sit down together to explore the roles of artist and audience, place and accessibility, legacy, capital influence, and individual vs. collective agency as they relate to artmaking today.
Sky High Farm Symposium at Judd Foundation: The Community Panel
In this video, Thelma Golden, chief curator and director of the Studio Museum in Harlem; Tremaine Emory, founder of Denim Tears and creative director of Supreme; Father Mike Lopez, founder of the Hungry Monk Rescue Truck; and artist Anicka Yi sit down to explore how the concept of community has shaped their work, and the power in seeing the places we live, our histories, and even our bodies as porous, interdependent, and alive.
Sky High Farm Symposium at Judd Foundation: The Land Panel
In this video, Veronica Davidov, visual and environmental anthropologist; Karen Washington, activist, farmer and co-founder of Black Urban Growers (BUGS) and co-owner of Rise & Root Farm; Candice Hopkins, curator, writer and executive director of Forge Project; and Haley Mellin, artist, conservationist and founder of Art to Acres sit down to explore the tensions and overlaps between different efforts to define, use, and protect land.
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2021
The Summer 2021 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Carrie Mae Weems’s The Louvre (2006) on its cover.
May 20–26, 2020
Moving between diverse styles and subjects, Dan Colen investigates the conceptual stakes of materiality and mark making. Alongside explorations in unconventional mediums including chewing gum, flowers, and metal studs, he continually returns to oil painting and representation, conducting an ever-evolving inquiry into the objecthood and authority of painting as a medium.
Photo: Eric Piasecki