A magician of mediums, Dan Colen is an artist who makes chewing gum look like acrylic, oil paint like bird excrement and now, flowers like vibrant, tenacious swirls and splashes of paint. Crucify Me (2013), is a sea of rich color; an encyclopedia of shade and depth that towers over its viewers at almost eight feet tall. A psychedelic vortex of hues splatter, blur, and compete with one another on this large scale linen work. The radiant colors rush towards the painting's center in an energetic blend of shades, dance briefly in this nucleus, and spread out towards the edges of the work as if each is on its own way, going at its own pace. Vivid magenta, glowing yellow, neon orange, and bold aquamarine both mingle and scatter to encapsulate Colen's playfully brazen style.
If Jackson Pollock revolutionized painting by throwing his canvases on the floor before covering them in paint, Dan Colen takes this a step further with the innovative 'painting' technique used in the present lot. The artist collects a variety of flowers, ranging from the brightly colored tropical blooms from specialty florists to the dyed carnations available at a corner bodega. Once the canvas has been wet down with water, Colen rubs the flower petals into the surface, leaving abstract swathes of pigment. Much like Andy Warhol, high and low culture has been combined, elevating a humble bouquet of flowers into fine art.
With both the style and creation of this work, Colen has expanded Pollock's performative legacy, but his tongue-in-cheek humor pays homage to the Dadaists of the early twentieth century as well. Colen's Birdshit paintings, for instance, are a contemporary take on Magritte's thought-provoking visual jokes. Colen leads us to believe his work is one thing-a canvas decorated with bird feces-yet upon closer inspection, we realize we have been fooled and the works are composed of oil and enamel paint. With Crucify Me, however, Colen flips the trick of trompe l'oeil: instead of making a traditional medium look like an object he makes an object look like a traditional medium. Once again, the artist keeps the viewer on his toes, always eager to keep us engaged and surprised.