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Dana Schutz – ‘Shadow of a Cloud Slowly Moving’ – Floating around pictorial genres

At her solo exhibition in London, artist Dana Schutz presents paintings and sculptures depicting her fascination in «fictional conditions, psychological sensation and subjective experience»

Dana Schutz metanarrative paintings

Michigan born and New York based artist Dana Schutz is known for her works underling the struggle of internal and social crises of individuals, expressed through visual metaphors and color coordination. In her works, Schutz evaluates «a physical and affective space where imagined crises and social relations are held in tension, depicting a bruised cast of characters that grope in the dark, struggle together in isolation and wander alone in color fields», states the Thomas Dane Gallery. Moods and interiority are reflected in setting and landscape – Heads and limbs pictured in vivid colors are gathered in a bowl, seemingly presented like fruits. «A nomad in the desert is hampered by an eyeball and chain, which locks eyes with the sun, while the monstrous size of Large Model (2020) suggests the figure could stride through the sea at any depth». Giving depth to the piece, Schutz utilizes the technique of paint layering, emulating a sculptural fashion. 

Lampoon talks to Dana Schutz

«My paintings are based on metanarratives. The pictures float in and out of pictorial genres. Still lifes become personified, portraits become events and landscapes become constructions. I embrace the area between which the subject is composed and decomposing, formed and formless, inanimate, and alive. I have been making paintings of sculptural goddesses, transitory still lifes, people who make things, people who are made, and people who have the ability to eat themselves. Although the paintings themselves are not specifically narrative, I often invent imaginative systems and situations to generate information. These situations delineate a site where making is a necessity, audiences do not exist, objects transcend their function and reality is malleable», she explained in a conversation with Saatchi Gallery.

EVERYTHING AND NOTHING, 2020 OIL ON CANVAS, 190.5 x 223.5 CM. 75 x 88 IN. © DANA SCHUTZ. PHOTOGRAPHY JASON MANDELLA

How narration works in paintings

For the exhibition at the Thomas Dane Gallery, which was held in 2020, the artist created a selection of six bronze sculptures – originally formed from clay -, that formalize Schutz’s pictorial features like objects, while holding a sense of temporality. The Juggler’s (2019) balls melt and reform around her, while in Heft (2019) a subject shoulders the load of another. Across both mediums in ‘Shadow of a Cloud Moving Slowly’, Schutz isolates figures in settings that contend with danger and affliction, internal dilemmas, and absurdity; their physical contortion and conflict caught in a dislocated transience. «It is interesting how narrative works in paintings – it is not dictated in real time, but it does have its own time. You can read the painting and it can unfold, but in a different way for anyone».

Dana Schutz artist

«I think it is interesting how narrative works in paintings – it is not dictated in real time, but it does have its own time. You can read the painting and it can unfold, but in a different way for anyone».

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