Dana Schutz, jogging alongside the train wreck

Dana Schutz, Painting in an Earthquake, 2019, oil on canvas, 94 x 87.75 inches

Contributed by Zach Seeger / In her new work on view at Petzel through February 23, Dana Schutz finds herself wielding the brush of post recession rapture painting, a condition of exhaustive, Beckett-like inevitability where the steady drip of bad news informs our social media feeds. She imagines the world outside her studio, empathizing with the toilers of pathological banality while depicting states of obsessive hyperawareness: Guston on Instagram. But instead of exploring artistic guilt and privilege, Schutz depicts a survivalist’s world through a quotidian lens, relishing the notion of artistic determination. 

Dana Schutz, Trouble and Appearance, 2019, oil on canvas, 90 x 96 inches
Dana Schutz, Buddy, 2018, bronze, 30 x 20 x 16 inches

Schutz rolls up her sleeves and deals with this shit while trying to make paintings. She doggedly jogs alongside the world’s train wreck, taking in the scene. Characters busy themselves with work, exercise, and gather with mob-like intentions. Everyone is coping with the world’s insanity while being a part of it. That includes Schutz, who has processed the experience in the studio.

Dana Schutz, Beat Out the Sun, 2018, oil on canvas, 94 x 87.5 inches

The paintings, both richly entertaining and disturbingly glib, are masterfully painted, combining the crude and the clumsy with swashbuckling virtuosity. Schutz, perhaps with a chuckle and a head shake, depicts the subjects of each painting as if to say, what do you know, they’re at it again. As bad things happen to some characters, others seem to be doing their awkward best, longing for a time when absurdity was less commonplace.

Dana Schutz, Mountain Group, 2018, oil on canvas, 120 x 156 inches

Schutz is determined to keep art alive while simultaneously tipping her hat to humanity’s exploits. The paintings are exuberantly large, romantic, billowing depictions of characters in search of an exit. Schutz  internalizes a world in which we are aware of being consumed through a cycle of violence and voyeuristic pleasure, and she tries to “make right” through the depiction of it. The bronze sculptures, exhibited for the first time, appear like gargoyles that have emerged from the paintings; a nomadic tribe that was going about its business when, Pompeii-like, they were frozen in time. In the sculpture as in the paintings, Schutz is a chronicler of a world that desperately longs for a new beginning.

Dana Schutz, Head in the Wind, 2018, bronze, 22 x 14 x 22 inches

“Dana Schutz: Imagine Me and You,” Petzel Chelsea, New York, NY. through February 23, 2019.

About the Author: Zach Seeger is a painter and sculptor who has exhibited at the Arts + Leisure (Manhattan), stARTup Fair LA, Artspace Tetra (Fukoka, Japan) and Life on Mars Gallery (Brooklyn). He used to run This Friday or Next Friday Gallery in DUMBO, and currently teaches painting at the 92nd Street Y.

Related posts:
The figure: Christopher Moss, Scooter LaForge, Dana Schutz
Zach Seeger’s surveillance
NY Times Art in Review: Dana Schutz and André Ethier

 

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6 thoughts on “Dana Schutz, jogging alongside the train wreck”

  1. Dear Zach,

    You’ve made some interesting points I ‘ve never considered. There are some pure paintings passages in DS that are quite profound- her eyeballs, three arms and space compression, spills are wild.

    RS

  2. Dear Zach Seeger –

    This review verbalized what I felt when I saw the work and I thank you for taking a clear position on what the art meant to you. “Schutz internalizes a world in which we are aware of being consumed through a cycle of violence and voyeuristic pleasure, and she tries to ‘make right’ through the depiction of it.” That took guts to say that! Thank you.

  3. dear Zach – impressed + thankful for your clear voice re: dana’s new work. saw the show only yesterday & was truly thrilled byits blast. those GREAT sculptures in their own room… i later wondered how they would have looked in w/the paintings & the decision to keep seperated. maybe it would have normalized or placed into old ideas of why-n-what is an ‘art show’ (like sculptures we bump into when stepping back to look at the paintings). i’m shaken (& that’s a gooood thing)

  4. Nice review. DS work is a visual wonder. With this show I loved her narratives and rich surfaces. I am on the fence with her sculptures though. Not sure they translate fron 2 to 3D. Maybe they will start to grow on me someday. I hope so.

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