Daniel Gerwin’s paintings are autobiographical abstractions, arising from parenting two young children. His abstractions address the experience viscerally by distilling family dramas and prosaic moments into an encoded language of shape, color, and line. Gerwin’s work delves into the tenderness of taking care of babies and toddlers, as well as the increasing playfulness, humor, and emotional complexity that arises as children get older. Painted passages of trompe l’oeil wood grain echo hardwood flooring, tabletops, and furniture, situating the images in the psychic space of domesticity.
Using a handheld jigsaw as a drawing tool, Gerwin creates raw and eccentric shapes that become core elements in his paintings, embodying his belief that life is best reflected by art that is untidy, and even awkward. The shapes are painted and assembled within a color field that is itself contained by a box structure Gerwin builds as a stage for the visual events within.
The exhibition’s title, All Joy And No Fun, quotes an old saying about parenting, one that rings especially true for mothers and fathers when their children are young. Gerwin’s conceptual approach is the opposite of that taken by most major 20th century abstract artists, who viewed abstract paintings as entirely non-referential. For Gerwin, abstraction is not a turning away from the world, but rather its keen embrace. His emphasis on children and home rejects old models of masculinity, particularly the archetype of the egomaniacal male artist who inevitably neglects his family. Artists are supposed to be shamans or enfants terrible, not change diapers and get their children to bed on time. Gerwin’s paintings pressure this paradigm while putting forward the intimacy and confusion of family life as a subject worthy of aesthetic investigation and public discourse.