Dana Schutz: Still Life
February 7, 2003 - March 21, 2003

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Dana Schutz: Still Life
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February 7th - March 21st


Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by New York based painter and Cleveland Institute of Art alumnus Dana Schutz. This will be Schutz's first one-person gallery exhibition outside of New York, and she will be returning to Cleveland for the occasion.  There will be an opening reception for the artist on Friday, February 7th from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.  The exhibition will continue through March 21st.  On Wednesday, February 5th, the artist, along with gallery owner, Brett Shaheen, will be an on-air guest on WCPN/90.3 F.M. radio's "Around Noon with Dee Perry" (12 noon- 12:30 p.m.) to discuss the exhibition.


Upon graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2000, Dana Schutz moved on to attend Columbia University's prestigious graduate art program, where she received her M.F.A. in painting this past May.  Since completing her first year at Columbia, Schutz's paintings have appeared in group exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Stockholm, Sweden.  Her recent (and first one person gallery) exhibition at LFL Gallery in New York met with resounding praise from collectors, critics and fellow artists. 


For her exhibition at SHAHEEN, Shutz has executed six (mostly larger scale) somewhat hallucinatory vignettes that subvert traditional perceptions of and expectations surrounding the canonical genre of still life. Through the artist's ultra-imaginative vision and deft, exceptionally versatile command over her medium, the traditional inertia of still life gives way to an undercurrent of instability and eminent transformation. According to Schutz, "Still lives become personified, portraits become events, and landscapes become constructions. I embrace the area between which the subject is composed and decomposing, formed and formless, inanimate and alive ... In my work, I imagine a place, a moment, a fictional situation, which meshes the premise of a practical situation with the absurd."  The lyrical and sometimes sculptural application of paint with which Schutz holds her playful compositions and the seemingly disparate cast of pictorial elements that populate them in dynamic counterbalance simultaneously drives her paintings to the verge of internal collapse, or spinning off into a wild network of tangents.


The Id Girl / angle

The Id Girl
Dana Schutz at Shaheen



March 2003


By Douglas Max Utter

Painting, painterly painting that is, can be an extravagantly inclusive mix of philosophy, step aerobics and food fight. The wide world wades onto the canvas, from shit to palm fronds, chutney and toe shoes; toddler antics combine with the vast, turbulent prehistory of the race. Such works are lumpy with personality, glazed though they may be with the pale cast of thought. Dana Schutz' newest paintings, on view this month at Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art, are all that. A recent showing at LFL Gallery in New York's Chelsea district drew high praise from critics at Flash Art and the Village Voice. At twenty-six, mere months after her graduation from Columbia's MFA program, Schutz has her paint-stained running shoes poised on the fast track of budding international stardom. It couldn't happen to a nicer painter.


I first encountered a number of Schutz canvases in 2001, scattered along cubicle walls at the Cleveland Institute of Art's factory building. The artist had just completed her BFA and was packing up for the stint at Columbia. I'd come that day to look at a friend's work, but lingered, lightly drooling, in front of Dana's paintings. There were little ones and fairly big ones, sort of landscapes, portraits and still lifes, but not exactly. They were too full of questions about identity to refer in any definite way to persons, places, or things.


I saw paint, squeezed and dumped, camped out in vaguely realistic, lightly brushy spaces. The difference between these two states of paint was in large part the subject. They were, then, paintings about painting — or not. Paintings at once dubious about painting and enthused about paint. They were mad science in a way, balefully successful experiments, in vitro perhaps but strangely alive.


In the months after Schutz went to New York, reports trickled in: Dana was in an important show at PS.1/MOMA. Dana had a solo show in New York, another in LA at Roberts and Tilton Gallery. Dana was reviewed everywhere. To no one's great surprise, Dana was turning out to be hot shit.


Her studio is in a building on 12th Avenue, shadowed by an elevated portion of the West Side Highway. I chose the coldest New York day in decades to visit. It was freezing inside, too, as we trudged up the stairs and along a corridor toward Dana's jumbled second-floor working area. She appeared from behind a canvas, smiling abstractly, black trash bag in hand, auburn curls massed like the frantic lines of an au courant drawing. Painters and their paintings can be like dogs and their owners, sharing quirks across an existential gulf. With Schutz, the grin, the talk, the rumpled jeans and tousled hair parallel her imagery and brushstrokes — mongrel, bumptious, winsome and stray.


Tubes of paint were everywhere, snatches of things and half-full coffee containers. Everything on the walls was spanking new, some of it still wet. A big, yellowish canvas depicted a bucket of colorful, unrecognizable rubbish; something that looked like a walking stick obtruded, and something else that resembled a human bone. Against the opposite wall another big, dark blue work featured a weak-chinned, skinny male figure rendered in black; he tinkered with a color-studded machine by the shore of a lake. Above, myriad star-spots twinkled around an eggy moon. Then there was a small painting of a stump studded with knives, and another showing the horizontal head and torso of a woebegone young man, the same figure as in the large blue painting.


Dana's most recent show at LFL Gallery was called Frank From Observation. The newer works now at Shaheen continue the saga of Frank's anomic tribulations. In the Frank paintings Dana imagines a significant Other, but in a twisted way — like, if Jacques Derrida had a teddy bear, what would he do to it? Schutz says she originally imagined this guy as a sort of boyfriend, more for her friends than for herself; possibly she was thinking Rousseau, a noble savage of sorts. But the character that has emerged from paint and unconscious has a reality TV-type fecklessness. He's a weakest link, and a bit of a jackass, stranded somewhere under Survivor-like conditions. Frank is lost, and Schutz observes his activities with vaguely amused detachment, like a less sympathetic Jane Goodall, or like a child with a pet. She seems to be painting a home video, starring The Id as Frank.


Dana Schutz is, obviously, a painter to watch, as she and her private realities evolve or devolve, flesh/paint bubbling with supercharged aesthetic DNA. It's intriguing, exciting, and damn peculiar. What's next, what weird painting will we find popped in the VCR? The expressive possibilities of paint continue their improbable course, despite doubt and technology.


Dana Schutz
Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art
740 Superior Avenue, Cleveland
Through March 21, 2003

Dana Schutz
Chicken or the Egg, 2003
oil on canvas
75 x 90 inches

Dana Schutz
Dead Guy, 2003
oil on canvas
22 x 28 inches

Dana Schutz
Hello Helen, 2003
oil on canvas
50 x 60 inches

Dana Schutz
Twister Mat, 2003
oil on canvas
84 x 90 inches

Dana Schutz
dana schutz installation, 2003

Dana Schutz
dana schutz installation view, 2003