Dana Schutz

born 1976

Dana Schutz is one of the most important contemporary American painters, creating transgressive representations of the human body on the borderline of abstraction and figuration. Her paintings are characterized by expressionist composition, an expressive palette of colours and intense impasto: a technique based on applying paint in very thick layers using a brush. The characters present on her canvases are exaggerated, sometimes even grotesque and entangled in absurd, macabre situations, e.g. self-cannibalism. Although Schutz's expressionism can be very affective, its impulse does not lie in a reflection on personal emotions or autobiographical motifs, but rather a metaphorical attempt to capture the human condition in its most dramatic manifestations. The painting shown at exhibition comes from the artist's latest show entitled ‘Imagine Me and You’, Schutz’s first exhibition following the 2017 scandal caused by her painting ‘Open Casket’. The artist has interpreted a photograph of the mutilated face of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy who fell victim to a lynching by white Americans in 1955. Shown at the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the painting was protested by African-American artists and activists who accused Schutz of aestheticizing death and cultural appropriation of the suffering of victims of racial violence. ‘Treadmill’ shows a woman with a head of a fish in front of a blank screen of a treadmill. The image can be understood as a reflection on the human body in late capitalism — a system that disciplines and requires the individual to constantly perform and self-create.

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