Thursday, June 20, 2013

DAN REES at Goss-Michael Foundation

Sulan, Pollock, And Warhol Had Chinese For Lunch 32x48 inches

Repost article from

The British embassy of contemporary art in Dallas, otherwise known as the Goss-Michael Foundation has another native son of the island on display. British born Dan Rees reminds me of those other brash artists I saw back in 1999 at the Sensation show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Rees is a Pop, Neo- Dadaist, with an edge of pure irony which made me love and hate this “Gravel Master” show.

At first I was repelled as I walked into the front gallery. The room was filled with washed out canvas that looked to be crumbly painted. These abstract works felt unfinished and unresolved as art pieces. However, I don’t think each painting was meant to be an individual piece, but rather all the works were hanging on coat rack nobs which unified all the paintings together into one art work. Thus, Rees was creating an installation, rather than an exhibition of paintings. I felt the homey decorative pegs added to the cheapness of the paintings, like these were throw away works and anything could have taken their place. I left this room disappointed, because Dan Rees’ intent to murder Painting was just an attempt.

The back gallery was a completely different experience. Wildly thick expressive paint, charged with muddy to vibrant colors. The paint was caked on the canvas and then mocked by the pouring of gravel which embedded into the surface and dried. Each work was like a portrait of a strange creature. The expressive brush strokes where flattened into mere shadows of their marks by the covering of the rocks. In several of the works, Rees leaves powerful negative space that creates a focus around the paintings and rocks. I was slightly put off by the rocks, but I stayed with the paintings until the composition and the whole of the installation started to speak to me. A real sense of rhythm was created through the nine works shoulder to shoulder in a line. Although I detect a bit of sarcasm, Rees' unconventional approach has added something to abstract painting that might have a positive influence.

I wish I could have seen some of his plasticine works. Just from the pictures I have seen, I couldn’t help but think of Gumby or Wallace and Gromit. I also want to see his sealed paintings in vacuum bags. The display case reminds me of Jeff Koons’ vacuum cleaner boxes or Damien Hirst display cases. Speaking of Hirst, one of his large works is hiding in the second gallery, behind Rees’ wall of paintings.

Overall, the “Gravel Master" was a hit and miss for me. However, with the variety of work Rees is playing with, I am not surprised a few things fail while many other ideas reach great heights. Rees is really more akin to the unrefined, experimental works of the Dada and Neo-Dadaist. I am sure Rees’ fearlessness will not go unrewarded. for more images

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