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Dana Schutz

With bravura brushwork, vibrant colors and inventive forms, Dana Schutz’s paintings make for an exhilarating viewing experience. In the recent exhibition “Fight in an Elevator,” consisting of 12 large paintings and four charcoal drawings, the Brooklyn-based Schutz continued her exploration of human feelings of insecurity—offering, perhaps paradoxically, an ambitious, confident treatment of the subject. It is easy to identify with her characters, for whom life is a struggle. Their environments are challenging. Space keeps collapsing around them. Physically awkward, they have large eyes, geometric heads and angular limbs, and are unsettling in a way that the term “cartoony” doesn’t quite convey. 

Picasso and Guston exert a strong influence on Schutz, their innovations a base from which she builds new variations. Recalling Cubism, her fracturing of space sometimes takes her compositions to the limits of legibility. This only adds to their engaging quality, as they require a certain amount of deciphering. Given their super saturated palette and references to the graphic style of comics, the paintings also bring to mind Pop art, especially Lichtenstein. They are loaded, however, with Schutz’s signature pinks and golds. Flat areas of color are articulated with jagged lines and modeled by smears. Often the marks look spontaneous and quickly laid in, but they feel so right that they must have been carefully planned...

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