Dan Colen - Contemporary Art Evening London Thursday, February 11, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Peres Projects, Berlin

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The inspiration for my series of gum paintings first came to me when I was working on my papier-mâché boulders. It originated from me imagining ‘secret’ places – in the woods, by the train tracks, in sewer ditches – where teenagers would congregate to get drunk, smoke weed, talk about the universe, and make out. So the boulders are all covered in spray paint and bird shit and chewed-up gum. I was using little pieces of acrylic medium to mimic real gum, and to help me figure out how to make it look realistic I would stick gum to pieces of foamcore to copy from. One day I looked at the foamcore and was like, oh, hey, that looks awesome. So I started making canvases of just the gum.
    “When I first started, the canvases were very sparse. Each one would have 20 or 30 pieces of chewed gum placed apart from each other randomly around the canvas. I took a break from making the gum paintings for a while, and when I picked them up again after a few months, I really went for it. It slowly developed into a more elaborate and involved process. I started adding a lot more gum to each canvas; I would put pieces down, pick them up again, move ’em around, stretch them out, mush ’em together, and mix flavors to create new colors.
    “I started using the gum like paint. Certain canvases would have gum stretched from the center outward, creating ‘hypnotic’ spirals. I’ve also done a series of Bazooka Joe joke paintings, with the comics stuck to the gum. But most of the pieces are just about playing with the gum and building up layers until they finish themselves. They turn into a mess but remain beautiful. They sometimes remind me of Cecily Brown’s paintings. Not that I believe they capture a similar amount of intensity or beauty – it’s a more self-indulgent impulse. I’m a big fan of her work and my mind can’t help but stray there, but it’s only a fantasy and I do recognize that they are completely different things. Cecily is able to transform paint. I unfortunately have to be much more literal and actually use gum instead of paint.”
    (The artist, quoted in A. Kellner, ‘SUCK ON THIS, Dan Colen Chews Our Ears Off About His Gum Paintings (Get it?)’ in Vice, 2008)

  • Artist Biography

    Dan Colen

    American • 1979

    American artist Dan Colen has spent most of his career asking himself questions about the editorial decisions artists have to make when creating a scene from scratch on canvas. In his early work, Colen painted mundane interiors punctuated with fantastical elements. This manifested as part of a growing curiosity in the ethereal or divine intervention.

    Colen subsequently stepped away from paint as material and started using found objects as mediums with which to paint. Among these, Colen has used chewing gum, street trash, confetti, feathers, flowers and dirt. This methodology allows Colen to abandon control and create in a more free-form, subconscious manner.

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Chewing gum and gum wrappers on canvas in the artist's frame.
104.3 x 78.9 cm. (41 x 31 in).
Signed and dated ‘Dan Colen 2008’ on the overlap; signed ‘Daniel Colen’ on a label adhered to the reverse. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

£25,000 - 35,000 

Sold for £49,250

Contemporary Art Evening

12 Feb 2010