Born 1975. Bremerton, Washington, US
Dan Attoe trained as a painter and is known as a fine draughtsman. His paintings are often accompanied by captions in pencil on the wall beside them that can develop into wall drawings or include short texts actually painted on the surfaces of his paintings. Dan Attoe’s works in neon stem in part from his pencil texts and drawings and, although referred to as sculptures, are in fact drawings in light that utilise the flexibility of neon to create complex assemblages of images that clearly owe something to commercial signage but whose message reveals a darker sloganised poetry.
Dan Attoe was brought up in a rough town in the Pacific Northwest of America, the son of forestry workers. His paintings (not seen here) frequently depict narratives to do with his early involvement with punk, his biker friends and the narratives of small town America blended with a personal dark surrealism that can move from the prosaic to the heights of gothic realism. He studied creative writing as well as art and his sloganising is part of a reductive process of writing that attempts an honest account of the customs and habits of American life particularly as they effect mainstream moral standards.
The four neon works on show in ‘Lightness of Being’ from 2006/7 express Dan Attoe’s thoughts about some of these moral standards portrayed in a typically down to earth way that is at odds with some of the more surreal reaches of his painting. The neon he uses evokes bar signs but the seemingly simple messages contain deeper and more complicated ethical issues than the objectivity of their presentation coupled with the brashness of their medium at first glance conceal.