Dan Colen (b. 1979) is part of the art scene that emerged around New York’s Lower East Side in the early 2000s. Informally known as “the Bowery School”, it also included artists such as Nate Lowman, Ryan McGinley, Dash Snow and Hanna Liden, all of whom drew on urban culture as a part of their art, each in his or her own way. With their sharpness, intensity and social insight they shaped narratives relating to the social fabric that governs contemporary life.
Dan Colen’s artworks conduct a close dialogue with society and address the political climate, while at the same time they comment on art history and hold clear references to the areas ofmusic and film.
In the course of the past decade Colen has developed a body of artistic workthat is based on hyperrealism, trompe l’oeil and illusionism, and that refuses to comply withexpectations of a unified artistic idiom.
Colen’s technically demanding works arouse a multitude of associations with their references to popular culture and art history and their unexpected use of materials, creating intricate connections between fantasy and reality, ideas and actuality. The work Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover (Another Country) looks like a painting, but is actually chewing gum applied to canvas, while Miracle on 34th Street appears to be made with bird droppings, but is actually a painting. His works thus often challenge established conventions of how art is supposed to look, what it is supposed to represent, and what it is supposed to be made of.
The installation Livin and Dyin is being exhibited at Astrup Fearnley Museet for the first time.The point of departure for the work is a performance that was presented at the Biennale deLyon in 2013, where the artist appeared together with the cartoon figures Wile E. Coyote, Roger Rabbit and the Kool-Aid Man. In the exhibition space the four figures have been immortalisedas sculptures, and it appears that time is standing still while we can only imagine how they have chased each other around and through the walls of the room.
The Astrup Fearnley Collection holds key works that span 12 years of Dan Colen’s artistic practice. The exhibition features a selection of his experimental and hyperrealistic paintings, sculptures, installations and films.