“Using popular iconography helps me focus on the materiality of the works and the processes behind them. The Disney paintings are more object than image,” stated Dan Colen. The sentiment reflects Colen’s deeper exploration of familiar stories and the profound messages they convey.
ART021 Shanghai Exhibition
From November 9 to 12, 2023, Gagosian proudly participates in ART021 Shanghai, highlighting a solo presentation of new and recent works by the gifted Dan Colen. This coincides with the gallery’s involvement in the tenth edition of West Bund Art & Design in Shanghai.
Disney Narratives as Inspiration
Colen’s latest pieces include nine entries from his ‘Mother series’ (2009–) and two creations from the ‘Woodworker series’ (2021–). These works derive inspiration from beloved Disney classics such as Snow White, Pinocchio, Bambi, and The Fox and the Hound. These narratives, echoing the fragility of life and the transformative nature of loss, serve as a canvas for Colen’s exploration of broader themes.
Depicting Utopian Visions
Colen’s Mother paintings offer a plethora of settings, suggesting various interpretations of a utopian existence. From the dense forests in ‘Mother (Path)’ to the cozy comforts of ‘Mother (Home)’ and the stark reality of ‘Mother (Skull)’, Colen plays with diverse motifs and scenarios, all emphasizing a yearning for a secure existence.
The Woodworker Series: A Personal Connection
The Woodworker paintings provide a closer look into Geppetto’s studio, detailing Colen’s personal connection with his father. The series accentuates the bond between creativity and family, and the eventual independence of materials from their creators. The emphasis on observation is evident in works such as ‘Woodworker (Music Boxes)’ and ‘Woodworker (Candle)’.
Colen’s paintings dive deep into the nuances of oil paint and its rich history. By “quoting” brush strokes identified with diverse art movements, he bridges the gap between German Romanticism, American Spiritualism, and Photorealism. The narratives portrayed are not just about the medium, but they emphasize the materiality, celebrating the process over the final product.
About Dan Colen
Born in 1979, Dan Colen hails from Leonia, New Jersey. Currently residing in New York, Colen’s works are housed in esteemed collections and museums. He has been a part of significant exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial and Peanuts, and has displayed his talent across global platforms.
ART021 SHANGHAI is scheduled from November 9–12, 2023, at the Shanghai Exhibition Center, with Gagosian marking its presence at Booth C02. Those interested in witnessing the brilliance of Dan Colen should make it a point to visit.