Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cohen’s Trash Day? More like 'The Day After'

"Memory Motel", 2011

Kick-starting Rome’s art scene season Fall/Winter 2011 was the opening of star painter Dan Colen’s  one-man show in the capital’s new Gagosian venue. Attracting star painters and curators from the New York office, as well as the elite of Rome’s art posse, Opening Night itself was as usual almost more spectacular than the show it was celebrating. 

Colen visits Rome with two groups of works – the first being a smaller collection of drawings dealing with the antics of “Blow-up God” and the second, and most prominent, something that has been baptized by the media and bloggers using the single term “Colen’s Trash”. The works feature found objects positioned on large canvases, splattered in paint with what can be best described as a retro, glam-grunge feel: a little bit of Pollock, a little bit of Rauschenberg. 
My personal favorite? “Hand of Fate”, a nauseating mess of refuse and blind color-combinations that leave me feeling lightheaded, lending the sensation of falling right into the pile of Dan’s bohemian paraphernalia.

Colen’s works are something that the director of the Gagosian in New York, Sam Orlofsky, describes as being  "a bargain", considering the works' power and energy; as with the art of all the greats, he adds, Colen’s work will remain largely misunderstood in current times. Hardly the case – the artist from New Jersey, just 32 years young, is selling pieces for … let’s not even go there. That is not to be taken as a criticism – after all, art is worth as much as anyone is willing to pay for it. But, at the end of the day, Colen’s – still relatively fresh work (the artist appeared on the New York scene in 2005) – is beginning to look … clean. Almost lazy. Would I describe “Memory Motel” as retro and suggestive? Yes. But, is it dirty, evocative, poignant or  energetic? No. Like all his works presented here, it appeared to be an artificially constructed afterthought.

September 19th, 2011
Gagosian Gallery, Rome

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