Born 1979 New Jersey
Lives and works in New York
Drawing from mass media, environmental experience and sub-cultural language, Dan Colen’s work infuses a sense of magic in the under valued and ordinary. Dan Colen works in painting and sculpture. One of his best known sculptures (not on show) Untitled (Vete Al Diablo), 2006 consists of a graffitied boulder that has been fictionally transplanted from a suburban wasteland. It is in fact made from papier- maché expertly crafted to look like the real thing. Dan Colen creates an ambiguity in the sculpture’s rough hewn appearance, elevating the overlooked and forsaken to a contemplative highly crafted object.
His paintings are often quickly scrawled in spray paint over plywood boards which are built up with sanded layers of moulding base and acrylic; they retain a tension between immediacy of expression and perfection of surface. Spelling out song lyrics, random thoughts, or absurd slogans, Dan Colen’s texts create a form of urban poetry, conjuring up images through word association and impoverished aesthetics. Realism is central to Dan Colen’s practice, sometimes he creates the effect of aerosol spray through meticulous brush technique.
He blurs the boundaries between high and low culture, elevating an intrinsic value from the disenfranchised. In the sculpture Untitled, 2004-2005 displayed in ATTITUDE, Dan Colen has fabricated a ramshackle wooden construction, the kind found on a wasteland in any city. Scrawled and painted on every surface is graffiti accounting its users, their presence and nefarious activities. As immediate and expressive as these writings appear, like the ‘wood’ they mark they are in fact painstakingly manufactured. Reality is further disrupted by the abnormality of the contents of the construction straddling both real and near comically absurd worlds.