Dana James & Jo Hummel: LOVE LETTER

GRUIN
8270 Santa Monica Blvd Los Angeles, CA, 90046
Oct 01, 6 PM - 9 PM — ends Oct 29, 2022
Dana James’ striking paintings coalesce bright, pastel palettes with dirty, recycled canvas in order to create worlds marked by contradiction. James welcomes the idea of objective “beauty” in her work, but she is most interested in offsetting it. This process is an exploration of the duality of femininity, as well as the duality of man-made artifice within the natural world. There is a shifting light in each piece, a literal “glow” created by iridescent pigment. It calls upon the glinting of the ocean, the magic felt in the vastness of nature as a child, and the flashing of color just before drifting into sleep. The paintings are a fantasia of memories in all of their glory, visually enchanting but shrouded with smoke and ghosts. Large fields of smooth color are offset by a flurry of mark making. These marks are akin to scars on otherwise flawless skin, diaphanous but permanent, they are heavy with history. Within these marks, traces of iridescence flicker across the surface like a dragonfly’s moonlit wing; coined as the universal symbol of change, the dragonfly is a form that lives inside the work repeatedly, most often deconstructed into triangles that denote direction within the painting’s moving composition.

Within the amorphous pools of color that largely define the landscape of each piece, strictly ruled lines provide control and structure, while ironically emphasizing the painting’s autonomy through bleeds and off-kilter strokes. The vocabulary of her chosen materials are calculated: bright hues and dark explosive pigments subsumed in layers of muted wax captures a transient moment that falls somewhere between past and present. Inside pieces that perpetuate into multi-paneled constructions, time disappears. There is no beginning or end to the composition and the viewer is left to speculate only the dissonance between the edges. The paintings act as a panorama of linear time; they serve as a reminder that we are small and predictable creatures, incessantly creating and shedding beautiful accounts of the earth and its elements. Upon completion, they are visual diaries that speak to contradiction, a latency caromed by intermittent activity.

Jo Hummel's work is characterized by a painted and paper collaged surface on which she employs spontaneous variations of space, color and form. Although her painting collages are physically engaged and materially driven the context is purposefully
anthropological. Hummel’s works are informed by both free will and deterministic formal human behavior.

Hummel runs experiments where the process helps determine the outcome while providing an arena for improvisation, a place where rational procedures can co-exist alongside intuition. In doing this she explores the unpredictable nature of intuition and spontaneity. Her practice functions as a simulation of decision making experiences which enable us to grasp sensations such as anxiety or serenity. It is via these conflicting emotional states of comfort, satisfaction, anxiousness, and repulsion that Hummel is able to tap into our ubiquitously felt state of human uncertainty. The social structures we all exist in guide and interfere with how we feel and what we choose to do on a daily basis. Our social class, religion, gender and ethnicity all play a part in what we deem pleasant or unpleasant.

The nature of collage is that throughout its creation a work is in constant flux. The artist must negotiate the canvas by rearranging, choosing and adjusting, often over long periods and having explored hundreds, even thousands of the infinite possible outcomes. In this way the creative process itself is as significant as the final outcome.