“The world will change to where you won’t recognize it. This will make you sad and angry, but it´s okay.” On this sunny autumn day American artist Dan Attoe takes me to a truly enigmatic dream world in his show “Lights Flickering in the Dark” at Peres Projects – ambivalent and melancholy, almost unsettling.
Homage to Hieronymus Bosch
The opening quotation is just one of the numerous provocative sentence fragments that come together to form a complex short story in the flickering chiaroscuro mountainscape Accretion #40. As he has in many of his other works, the artist has inscribed the high-gloss oil painting with miniature philosophical scribblings in fine silverpoint, coupling them with satirical symbolic images. It takes a bit of time to grasp this multi-layered painting. It’s like being suddenly transported to an Hieronymus Bosch-like world: people in fanciful landscapes, along with a few weighty symbols and banners. Unfortunately, we have none of Hieronymus‘ notes to enlighten interested viewers; fortunately, it’s a different story when it comes to contemporary art.
It’s a kind of self-reflection…
Attoe has said that Accretion #40 is influenced by the recent birth of his daughter. He wondered how morally corrupt the world in which she is going to grow up will be. Is this his sad, angry view of becoming an adult?
In a way, it is. Here, the artist takes stock of his own past. It is, in a matter of speaking, his life in short story form, a kind of self-reflection. As in his other paintings, he mixes real experiences with fictitious elements from his daily meditation.
In another way, there is also humor in Dan Attoe‘s work. Several of his phrases are so amusing that one realizes that Attoe is making peace with the human race and ultimately with his own humanity. It’s really not all so bad – there’s light at the end of the tunnel and, as we all know, hope springs eternal!
With a bounce in my step, I revel in the sight of the other paintings around me. I encounter apes (symbols of immorality in western iconography), the depths of the human soul and ambiguity. But it’s okay! It’s all a part of life.
Bravo, Dan Attoe!
Exiting the exhibition space, I experience that electrified and pleasantly confused sensation I get after seeing a David Lynch film. Bravo, Dan Attoe! We can certainly expect to see much amazing work from you in the future.
On view until November 5, 2011.