Breaking through the gallery walls: Dan Colen at Newport Street Gallery
Here’s a challenge for the art collector: how do you hang an artwork which is an empty figure or shape, perfectly cut through the plasterboard and brickwork from one room into another? Yet, this is what Dan Colen has done at the Newport Street Gallery as part of his exhibition “Sweet Liberty”. No wonder the Gallery was closed for 6 weeks while this exhibition was installed.
American artist Dan Colen was born in 1979. Within the lofty spaces of the Newport Street Gallery, he explores issues of identity and individuality in the modern USA, framed by two seismic events in American history – 9/11 in 2001 and the recent election of Donald Trump as President. He breaks with tradition, hence artworks become voids in the walls and “paintings” are created from chewing gum, symbolic of American culture. Cartoon characters and a young man, stripped of everything but his tattoos, more sets of icons, become symbols of living and of dying, for society, culture and for art. Colen’s work plays with positives and with negatives, hence the cut-out figures allowing the viewer to see from space to space.
Colen leaves us with a question in terms of personal identity in 21st century America: “No sex, No war, No me”. A thought provoking discussion for the future……… This is art as it should be, asking difficult questions.