The Painting Fallen, and the Collapse of Rome

On Wednesday, March 18th, Galerie Thomas Schulte will open the solo exhibition “The painting fallen, and the collapse of Rome” by Danilo Dueñas. This is the second exhibition of the Colombian artist in the gallery after his installation in the corner space in 2012.

Danilo Dueñas works with found materials, which he looks for or discovers by accident. Often these are everyday objects; they are discarded, old or new. The focus is on things that have long outlived their useful purpose. For his current exhibition he has, among other things, imported tires and a truck tarp from Colombia, and discovered a carpet, a small piece of furniture, sunbeds, a frying pan and a magnifying glass at flea markets. Despite his ongoing engagement with formal issues, a direct connection to the real life is important for him. Thus, his choice is by no means arbitrary, rather it is derived by an inner necessity, which the artist himself describes as an unconditional belief in the world that surrounds us. In his works the beauty of life is a major issue and is often presented with emphasis on its transience and imperfections. All objects are part of our reality, are substantive and beautiful. At the same time these things represent more than just their function: A frying pan is more than a frying pan, a tire is more than a tire, a piece of wood is more than a piece of wood. At the same time, the artist stresses the relationship between art work and the world of the living.

The artist subjects his material to minimal or no treatment, before assembling it to create apparently fragile, yet expansive constructions. The massive installations find their balance in an elaborate, technical, yet aesthetic system. For the duration of an exhibition, the everyday objects are transferred to the art context, and are there filled with new life before they are returned to their original location. By putting the objects into new relationship to each other, the artist refers to the possibility of aesthetic experience beyond their actual, practical function. With his installations Dueñas encourages the viewer to fundamentally rethink the surrounding things and their relationship to one another.

Dueñas transforms the whole room into a stage, in which sculptures turn to paintings and paintings turn to sculptures. On one wall collages are arranged by size. Even here, the works are comprised of objets trouvés: texts, prints, advertisements, wood. The artist underlines the particularity of the objects by overpainting them in a combination of Abstract expressionism and Dada.

Again and again, Danilo Dueñas links his work to other artists. In the corner space, he reproduced the 1908 oil painting “Die Enthüllung des Richard Wagner Denkmals” by Anton von Werner. It depicts in great detail the huge event, which occurred in 1903 in Berlin’s Tiergarten and was attended by many Berliner artists such as painter Adolph von Menzel and sculptor Peter Breuer. The historic scene does not just unify painter and sculptor in one painting, but also represents that which fascinates Dueñas: the reality of life, which becomes art.

Danilo Dueñas was born in 1956 in Cali, Colombia. After a long stay in Berlin, Dueñas has returned to live and work in Bogotá as of this year. Dueñas has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including the group shows “Beuys y más allá: El enseñar como arte” at Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango in Bogota, “Correspondences: Contemporary Art from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros” at Wheaton College, Norton, USA, “Mesótica” at Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo, San José, Costa Rica, and “Transatlántica” at Museo Alejandro Otero in Caracas. In recent years, he has held individual shows at Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas (2003), as well as Museo de Arte Moderno and Museo de Arte de la Universidad Nacional, Bogotá (2001). Since 1990, Dueñas has taught at Universidad de los Andes, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano. In 1999, he was awarded the Johnnie Walker Art Prize. In 2011/12, Dueñas was a guest of the Berlin Artist’s Program of DAAD. On the occasion of his participation in the group exhibition «Urgent!», hosted in several locations in Cali last fall, the catalogue «El espesor de la superficie» from the book series «Colección de Arte Contemporáneo» by Seguros Boliva was recently released.

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