Gestalten is pleased to present Bar Shrines, Lamps and Other Paintings of Light, the first solo exhibition by American artist Dan Witz in Germany.
In his Nightscapes and Lamps & Interiors series, Witz transforms everyday subjects into glowing domestic shrines, from lamps in apartment buildings, liquor bottles displayed in upscale bars to bodegas and grocery stores at night. The intimate hyper-realistic depictions of the banalities of life allow us to suspend our disbelief long enough to enter the fascinating world of art.
The most captivating aspect of his night paintings is his use of light, which simultaneously invokes a feeling of intimacy and isolation. His hybrid approach of combining old master techniques and new digital technology catalyzes an evocative effect of banal life dipping into new mystery. Using physical light as a metaphor for spiritual revelation and enlightenment, Witz refers to religious painting traditions. Influenced by the baroque chiaroscuro technique, he illuminates his subjects by using strong contrasts between light and dark, creating an illusion of depth, form, light, and shadow. In these pieces, he also references the work of Joseph Right of Derby and Ed Ruscha’s iconic gasoline stations.
Taking a digital print as the starting point, Witz covers most of the surface with layers of oil paint to recreate the artificial light. The resulting image captures the scene in a way neither a photograph nor a painting could do all by itself. As Witz explains, "I am concerned with exploring what oil paint on canvas can uniquely do, that no other visual media can. Above all, I am fascinated by oil painting’s extraordinary ability to create light—not just evoke light, but to palpably reproduce the experience of light.”
The urban tranquility depicted in these realistic paintings created through forgotten traditional techniques make Dan Witz transcend time and space. Feeding off of his unparallel yet definitive street art practice, Witz is as well the true pioneer of street art who has crossed over from the subculture into high art with his sensational paintings. To coincide with the exhibition, the artist will be staging his distinctive signature on the streets of Berlin for the very first time.
Gestalten.tv Meets Dan Witz
Dan Witz was born in Chicago in 1957. He studied at Rhode Island School of Design and graduated from Cooper Union School of Art, New York in 1980. His early influences were a mixture of punk rebellion, culture jamming, and the scary urban blight of New York in the early eighties—a time that he also experienced from the perspective of a musician. He has exhibited in galleries throughout Europe and the US and currently lives in Brooklyn with his family, balancing both his gallery work and street art.