Everything I do, whether it’s an oil painting, a painting made with a less traditional material, a sculpture, a film, or performance—whatever it is comes back to my exploration of the artist’s mark, that moment when the art locks into place . . . even if it’s just for a second.
Gagosian Hong Kong is pleased to present When I’m Gone, Dan Colen’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong and the first dedicated exhibition of the Flower Paintings, begun in 2010.
In his paintings, Colen questions the very meaning and power of making marks on a canvas. The Candle Paintings (2003–) are highly detailed oil paintings of a still from the Disney movie Pinocchio. As Colen progressed in the series, painting several iterations of the same animated frame, the image became successively less coalescent, the rendering more individuated and further from the idea of the perfectly blended oil painting. In the Confetti Paintings (2010–), discrete marks hold their own space on the canvas, emphasizing their self-contained energy. Papier-mâché boulders (2006–) that use trompe l’oeil techniques in oil paint to mimic heavy sculptural stone, a series of natural stones painted to look like M&M’S candies (2012–), and the deceptive Birdshit Paintings (2006–) underscore the nature of Colen’s experiments in aesthetics and representation.
The deconstruction of an artwork’s creation, and the investigation of the meaning imbued in its raw material, has also led Colen to use unconventional materials. This gradual process—the breaking down of the brushstroke and the very elements of the artist’s mark—was extended with the visceral, abstract Bubblegum Paintings (2006–). Made of actual bubblegum instead of paint, these works correspond in some ways to the questions of painting and historical representation that Colen himself seems to ask with oil painting. Grappling with materials over long stretches of time, within each series, he challenges their distinct formal qualities again and again. Chosen for their immediacy and their remoteness from contemporary art discourse, the substances—from chewing gum to street trash—override assumptions about the essence of painting. Brash yet fragile, the Flower Paintings contain Colen’s accumulated impressions from the last six years, not unlike the traditional Daoist landscape painter who must wander through the mountains in order to depict his topography. This series is the culmination of a pivotal phase in Colen’s career as a groundbreaking American painter.
With the Flower Paintings, Colen relinquishes control of the painterly mark and turns the action of the brushstroke into a smashing or shattering gesture. Instead of paint, natural seasonal and artificially dyed flowers from corner bodegas and markets in New York City were employed to mark the canvas, applied with quotidian objects—rubber mallets, dildos, bowling pins, and billiard balls—rather than paintbrushes. Gradually the flower marks began to smear from the flowers being dragged and pressed into the loose canvas. Residual petals and pistils, adhered by Colen’s own pressure, are reminders that these works exist in the physical, as well as metaphysical, world. The Flower Paintings demonstrate both Colen’s persistent confrontation with and his surrender to the limitations of painting. The aesthetic impressions are created by measures of force, rather than by the considered or impassioned painterly gesture. In these paintings, Colen has collapsed the distance between subject and object, the represented and the representative—the image of the flower, made by the flower—in his ongoing quest for what lies at the heart of the act of artistic transformation.
我所做的一切，不論是油畫、以另類材料創作的畫作、雕塑、影片，甚至表演，都源於我對藝術家印記的探索，亦即藝術成形的一瞬間 . . . 哪怕過程只有一秒。
香港高古軒畫廊欣然呈獻Dan Colen首個香港個人作品展覽「When I’m Gone」，更首次展出他自2010年起創作的“花卉繪畫”(Flower Paintings)系列。
Dan Colen透過畫作探討在畫布上留下印記的意義及影響力，他於2003年開始創作的“蠟燭繪畫” (Candle Paintings) 系列，細膩刻畫迪士尼電影《木偶奇遇記》 (Pinocchio) 的定格照。隨著他重複繪畫同—個畫面，畫作漸漸出現差異，演繹方式更具特色，並進一步偏離完美油畫畫面的概念。於2010年起創作的“五彩紙屑畫” (Confetti Paintings) 系列中，顏色斑點散佈在畫布上，各有其空間，彰顯內含的力量。由2006年起創作的“紙糊巨石”(Papier–mâché boulders)系列運用油畫中的錯視畫（trompe l’oeil）技巧，模仿沉重的石雕。他由2012年起將天然石頭繪成M&M糖果，加上幾可亂真的“鳥糞繪畫” (Birdshit Paintings) 系列 (由2006年起) ，無不反映藝術家對美學及呈現方式的實驗探索。
解構作品的創作過程，以及深入探究原材料蘊涵的含意，亦驅使Dan Colen採用一反傳統的材料進行創作。抽象這一對筆觸和藝術家印記進行消解的過程，逐漸延伸至抽象的“口香糖繪畫”(Bubblegum Paintings)系列(由2006年起)，作品以口香糖取代顏料，某程度上回應自己對油畫及其呈現方式的種種疑問。他的每個系列都花耗長時間處理繪畫材料，從而連番質疑其獨有的屬性。從口香糖以至街邊的垃圾，每種材料皆為常見之物，遠離當代藝術語境，推翻對繪畫本質的先入為主的觀念。大膽而脆弱的“花卉繪畫”系列包含Dan Colen過去六年間累積的觀感，這—長期感受推敲的過程與傳統風景畫家有異曲同工之妙，而此系列亦代表其作為前衛美國畫家的重要創作階段的巔峰。
透過“花卉繪畫”系列，Dan Colen放開對繪畫性筆觸的控制，將執筆繪畫的動作變成擊碎及敲砸的動作。他棄用顏料和畫筆，改用紐約市街角便利店及市場售賣的鮮花及人工染色花朵，並以橡膠錘、假陽具、保齡球瓶及桌球等日常物件，將花固定在畫布上。隨著花朵被放上畫布壓平，花的形狀漸漸模糊，在重壓下附在畫布上的花瓣及花蕊碎片，意味著這些作品既存在於現實世界，也存在於形而上的世界。“花卉繪畫”系列同時體現了藝術家對繪畫這一行為的抗拒和妥協。畫布上的印記均由外力形成，而非源於深思熟慮或充滿熱情的繪畫動作。在這些繪畫中，Dan Colen以花卉創作花卉影像，消弭了主題與物體、被呈現之物及象徵物之間的距離，而這正是藝術家持續探索的議題：何為藝術轉化行為的核心。
Dan Colen: Sky High Farm
In this video, Dan Colen speaks about his inspiration in founding Sky High Farm as a way to address food insecurity and improve access to fresh, nutritious food for underserved communities in New York. Established in 2011, the 40-acre farm raises pasture-based livestock and grows organic fruit and vegetables exclusively for donation.
The Bigger Picture
Sky High Farm × Project EATS
Dan Colen and Linda Goode Bryant are both artists who have founded nonprofits devoted to food justice. Here they speak about art, food, and life, including how they arrived at farming and the urgency of their projects’ missions during the current health crisis.
A Single Moment: Dan Colen and Francesco Bonami
Dan Colen joins Francesco Bonami in a conversation about absence and nostalgia, decadence and decay, progress and failure—and about help, the theme of his most recent body of paintings.
Dan Colen with Hans Ulrich Obrist
Against the backdrop of his survey exhibition Sweet Liberty, Dan Colen speaks about his work with Hans Ulrich Obrist, starting with his earliest interest in art and continuing up to the recent Desert paintings (2015–19).
Dan Colen: Carry On Cowboy
Gagosian Quarterly presents Dan Colen’s Carry On Cowboy. This performance first took place during the exhibition Dan Colen: High Noon at Gagosian, Beverly Hills.
Dan Colen: At Least They Died Together
Gagosian Quarterly presents Dan Colen’s At Least They Died Together. This performance first took place during the exhibition Dan Colen: High Noon at Gagosian, Beverly Hills.
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