10.2 - 11.3.2017
Opening: Friday 10 February, 5-8pm
Tom Christoffersen Gallery is pleased to present Naked Pictures, an exhibition of new paintings by New York-based artist Dan Schein. These frenetically rendered canvases are inhabited by his latest tragicomic cast – a roll call of leering men with long white beards, cartoonish wild animals, wide-eyed dogs, prehistoric pigs, biblical snakes and bathing women seemingly nonplussed about the post-apocalyptic scenes they’ve been painted into.
Schein’s vignettes, zealously worked just to the edge of agitation in his signature rapid-fire brush strokes and sombre palette, are crammed full of idiosyncratic nods to the traditional, the contemporary and the anxiously subjective. Some are straight from the annals of art history – a hint of the ‘peasant genre painting’ of Bruegel the Elder and Goya’s etchings of Spanish tortures, an inkling of Hieronymous Bosch’s Old Testament hellishness or Max Beckmann’s highly wrought, magic realist scenes. Others, though, are inimitably of now – the vast virtual worlds of role-playing video games, or a dignified woman clad in studded S and M straps attached to an old man with a preacher’s beard. Their strangeness is consolidated by the artist’s signature palette, which tends towards the dull and sludgy with the odd injection of vivid, jarring colour that lifts these scenes further into dystopian territory.
This series of works also sees Schein repeatedly returning to that age-old painterly enabler of nakedness: bathing. Where Titian gave us sensuous Diana splashing in a Greek grotto and Renoir an erotically-charged Bathsheba, Schein’s characters – though they offer a sly comment on contemporary sexuality – are far too apathetic about their bizarre situations to be sexy, even in their unabashed nakedness. Whether perched on the edge of a roll top bath, spear fishing in a stream with one manically bulging painted eye or crowded together in a wild pool surrounded by dead tree stumps, these people leave us uncomfortable, laughing or aghast, but never impressed by their allure.
Despite their obvious comicality, these scenes are uncanny and incredibly emotive. There’s a sense of Schein’s humour being used as a foil, even a coping mechanism, for the enormous brutality humans are capable of inflicting on the world and each other.
- Helena Haimes, 2017
Dan Schein was born in South Africa in 1985 and now lives and works in New York City. This is his third solo show with the gallery. Other notable solo shows include Where Do We Dump The Bodies at Mike Weiss Gallery, New York (2016) and Dan Schein at Galleri Brandstrup, Oslo (2013). he has been included in numerous group shows and was awarded the grant from the National Endowment of the Arts in 2010.
Dan Schein: Bath Scene with Dominatrix, Dog, Premonition Man and the Woman who Didn't know how she got There, 2016, Oil on canvas, 127 x 157 cm