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.
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.
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.
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: 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.