In his solo show "A Twelve-Step Program for Iconoclasm," Canadian-born painter Jason Dunda interrogates portraiture and the power structures at work to create icons. The paintings are rich and textured commentaries the role of iconoclasm today.
"A Twelve-Step Program for Iconoclasm" features a suite of abstracted heads and figures in oil and gouache created by Chicago artist Jason Dunda. Dunda aims to seduce the viewer with rich color and deft paint handling while capturing the likeness of tragic and often problematic figures in historical and contemporary sociopolitical narratives. This assembled collection shows images of a head and shoulders in various modes of description—smeared and scraped paint while also having paint flows and clots. Not every move flatters his subjects, but not every subject deserves flattery.
"A Twelve-Step Program for Iconoclasm" brings together selections from the past three years of Dunda’s painting practice. Like many of Dunda’s conceptual moves, the exhibition title is a clever contradiction. It simultaneously calling back to the Byzantine impulse to literally destroy religious figurative representations as well as the more modern usage of the term as one of progressive free thinking. Regardless, the title frames the iconoclast (Dunda, his painted subjects, or even the audience) as one who needs interrogation or even one who should be checked. In this exhibition, Dunda melts the figure into the material of paint and caricatures those who deserve his ire. The artist literally and figuratively destroys the icon and, in doing so, possibly creates new ones. Dunda's paintings capture the conflicted role of iconoclasm in the contemporary moment.