In his first solo exhibition at the gallery Hays will continue to examine the relationship between the intangible, encoded and instantaneous realm of the digital, and the tactile, imperfect and time-consuming medium of painting.
Over many years Dan Hays has travelled along the highways, roads and trails of his adopted land of Colorado. The promise of these routes is to reach the majestic grandeur of the Rocky Mountain wilderness. Their pictorial representation directs the viewer to imaginatively project themselves to these distant heights, and dream of escape from the modern world. However, Hays’ source material is gleaned from the hyper-spatial freeway of the Internet: the functional aesthetic of ski-resort or traffic surveillance webcams, or the picturesque allure of digitally archived old postcards.
Hays’ paintings negotiate a territory that aims to transcend the retro-modern fad, to positively embrace anachronism. The paintings in Interstate work to combine and consume states of mediation: between low- resolution digital file and photographic print; projected screen and tangible painted surface; analogue TV and woven fabric; painted brushstroke and glowing pixel.
By transforming low-resolution, heavily compressed pictures of landscapes into works reminiscent of pointillism Hays highlights and/or reconciles the perceptual incongruities between the physicality of the canvas and the sheer matrix of the digital screen. His repetitive brushstrokes and meticulously considered colour palettes add depth and complexity to the scenes through the use of various pictorial inventions. For example, the red, green and blue colour primaries of the screen are accentuated, creating perceptual disruptions at different proximities to the paintings and bring the trichromatic nature of colour vision into the frame, featured most profoundly here in the paintings Criss-cross and Triadic Fugitive. Additionally, in the paintings Wanderlust and Transparent Eyeball lighting effects are superimposed to highlight the materiality of the painted image-object. In Lone Raindancer droplets of glossy oil paint echo the raindrops on the surface of the webcam image, yet the triangular formation of the screen matrix relates to the outmoded cathode-ray television. The source material for Interstate was plucked from thousands of images created by a malfunctioning webcam. The painting is rendered in brushstrokes that weave a matrix and simulate a digitally enlarged woven canvas. ‘Interstate’ is both an exalted form of American highway and a statement of uncertain and generative emergence. In other words a way of passing through the landscape or an opportunity to inhabit an unfettered, nomadic, historical, dislocated and romantic situation.
Landscape has been a technology to recognise our status as a species that does not belong. The problem of landscape is not a matter of getting the right image of belonging: it is a matter of trying to make belonging happen in a world of images.
About the artist
Dan Hays (b. 1966, London) is a London based artist and an associate lecturer at Central Saint Martins. He completed a PhD at Kingston University in 2012, which included the exhibition Screen as Landscape at the Stanley Picker Gallery. Recent group exhibitions include Arboretum: The Art of Trees; the Arborealists and other Artists, The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol (2014), Film in Space at Camden Arts Centre (2012), Witnessing the Wilderness at Wimbledon Space, Wimbledon College of Art (2013), and A Machine Aesthetic at Gallery North, Newcastle (2013). His works are included in private and public collections such as, Tate, HSBC and Arts Council UK.