Jonathan VanDyke – Traunitz

January 25, 2014 - March 8, 2014

We are pleased to present an exhibition by Jonathan VanDyke, entitled "Traunitz". It is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Germany.

New York-based VanDyke presents an installation combining performance, photography, video and painting. A 2,6m high wooden fence runs the length of the entire gallery, creating a series of enclosures. Mounted inside the fence are a number of paintings made by the artist with two dancers, David Rafael Botana and Bradley Teal Ellis, who are also a couple. VanDyke created intricate net costumes for the dancers, utilizing an open "diamond" pattern that refers to the clothing of the Harlequin, the entertainer. Wearing these paint-soaked nets, the dancers interpret VanDyke’s choreography, pushing and pulling and pressing one another against raw canvas. Layers of paint record the movements of the body, generating an abstract surface that recalls Action Painting, Cubism, and the Gutai group. VanDyke departs from these modernist precedents through his use of collaborators: the works are not that of an individual author, but the result of an intensive relationship and a highly-articulated, yet still spontaneous, process. Another group of paintings are made from the paint-soaked shirts and pants that the dancers wore in the studio. The clothes are cut and sewn back together in the diamond pattern, and mounted on the fence so that the viewer sees both the front and back of each painting.

A series of black and white photographs, entitled Darkroom, reveals the dancers in action wearing their net suits. The title refers both to the historical darkroom, the lightless space in which black and white photographs were developed, and to the name commonly used for the back room of gay sex clubs. Mounted outside of the fence is a video, also entitled "Traunitz", in which performers move with dripping paint and make gestures with their hands, communicating through a private, silent language. The same paintings that are in the exhibition (often in earlier stages of their development) appear as backdrops to this action. Also mounted outside of the fence is a sculptural work that slowly drips paint onto the floor: the sculpture “performs" the action of painting, making itself over and over again over the course of the exhibition.


In an essay accompanying the exhibition, artist and writer Caitlin Berrigan writes that: “VanDyke, like the Harlequin, is an artist between worlds of labor and play as much as his work exists between painting and performance. It is in this gap where the instability of the Harlequin’s geometry takes hold. The hidden dimension in VanDyke’s paintings is not the third dimension of Renaissance perspective and representational illusions of solid space, but rather the fourth dimension of time. Through the labor of producing painting, VanDyke gives glimpses and material evidence of the concealed dimensions of performance, intimacy and queer couplings."


In 2013 VanDyke presented solo exhibitions at Scaramouche and Court Square Project Space, both in New York, and at 1/9 unosunove in Rome, where he also took part in the Qwatz Artist Residency and presented a live performance. Recent solo projects include major works at the Albright Knox Art Gallery and as part of Performa 11 in New York City. He has presented live performance, including a piece featuring dancers Botana and Ellis, at the National Academy Museum, New York; Socrates Sculpture Park, New York; Vox Populi, Philadelphia; and The Power Plant, Toronto. His work has been reviewed in Art Forum, TimeOut New York,, Modern Painters, Art Papers, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Buffalo News, ArtSlant, White Hot, and Drone Magazine. He has received grants from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and the Joan Mitchell Foundation, has served as a resident at Yaddo, as an Emerging Artist Fellow at Socrates Sculpture Park, and as a Visiting Artist Fellow at The University of Chicago, Illinois State University, and Krabbesholm Art Academy, Denmark. He attended the graduate program at Bard College and the Skowhegan School.