I Have the Dream Dr Martin Luther King Jr by Daniel Green © 2014 Creativity Explored Licensing, LLC. Mixed media on wood, 17.75 x 16 inches (above)
Daniel Green’s first solo exhibition Days of Our Lives, curated by Eric Larson, is currently on view through March 4th at Creativity Explored’s gallery in San Francisco's Mission District. Green has shown previously at Southern Exposure, Jack Fischer Gallery, and in Create, a traveling exhibition curated by Lawrence Rinder, which originated at the Berkeley Art Museum. While visiting the Creativity Explored studio, we had the opportunity to meet Daniel Green, view his work, and observe his process.
Days of Our Lives features 54 compelling drawings by Green, in which he records fragments of ideas and information; parts of an elusive whole are kept safe, densely listed from memory in ink, sharpie, and colored pencil on robust panels of wood. Loose statements and systematic lists connect dates and times, tv schedules, athletes, historical figures, and various pop culture references...KURT RUSSEL GRAHAM RUSSEL RUSSEL CROWE RUSSEL HITCHCOCK AIR SUPPLY ALL OUT OF LOVE…
Green’s text is poetic and complex, repetitive and often underlined - language and thought translated onto the surface of carefully handled wood. Green’s figures and their embellishments are presented without a hierarchy in terms of space occupied on the surface; images are similar to the text, drawings as physical language. They are at times elaborate and at other times profoundly simple. The iconic figures’ facial expressions (Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, Madonna, etc.) are generally flat with proportions subject to Green’s intention.
By blurring the distinction between the articulation of ideas in text and the development of a textured surface or field of marks, these objects become, in a strange way, something minimal and material, yet simultaneously personal and expressive. This expressive/minimal paradox is one well understood by Gerhard Richter. So, given this context, it’s as though Richter describes Green when he discusses these ideas:
Pictures which are interpretable, and which contain a meaning, are bad pictures. A picture presents itself as the Unmanageable, the Illogical, the Meaningless. It demonstrates the endless multiplicity of aspects; it takes away our certainty, because it deprives a thing of its meaning and its name. It shows us the thing in all the manifold significance and infinite variety that preclude the emergence of any single meaning and view. (Elger and Obrist, 2009, pp. 32-33)
Green’s text escapes meaning to become material. In this way, it remarkably “takes away our certainty” to “demonstrate the endless multiplicity of aspects”, teaching us that the pleasure and joy of knowing can be the possession of knowledge in another sense altogether. Abstract of understanding, thoughts or information can thereby become physically owned.
Despite this insightful achievement in the paradigm of the Minimalist pursuit of the absolute, Green’s work is far too personal to be categorized as Minimalism. From his handwriting to the delicate and expressive articulation of his figures, every aspect of the information saturating Green’s surfaces is secondary to the presence of his voice. Initially, they’re the intimate and uninhibited visual index of Green’s hand. The experience of his work then focuses on the act of reading - his works are jarring and curious, slowly leading you through meaning amid the absence of coherence. Ultimately, they compel the viewer to internalize and decipher Green’s ongoing, non-linear narrative. His drawings call to mind Deb Sokolow’s humorous, text-driven work, but are less diagrammatic and concerned with the viewer. Much like Sokolow, Green engages in making work that begins with archiving information, which then develops into intriguing, fictitious digressions informed by this process.
If you’re in the Bay Area in the next few months, don’t miss the opportunity to see this wonderful exhibition in person. If not, you can view many of Green’s pieces on Creativity Explored’s website: http://www.creativityexplored.org/artists/daniel-green