Recently, Zurich Art, the yearly weekend of gallery exhibition openings took place on the second weekend of June in Zurich, Switzerland. A show which left an impression: “The Fool” by American artist Kyle Dunn at Galerie Maria Bernheim. Dunnˈs sensuous, sculptural paintings, which were mostly created during the pandemic, stem from the artistˈs outlook of the world as well as observations of a digital culture.
Dunn’s paintings address the anxieties of the contemporary moment, with an emphasis on our relationship to the deteriorating natural environment and the contradictory ways we live in spite of this knowledge.
Several sets of contrasting paired works imply a swinging between extremes. In The Santa Anas, Dunn evokes the wind that comes down from the mountains in Southern California that heralds fire season and is rumored to cause madness; the flower represents an evil spirit receiving its energy from the orange fiery sky rather than the sun. Its pendant, Insomniac, shows a more meditative scene. Here the moon exerts a tidal-like gravity on a domestic interior where a sleepless figure lays awake, accompanied by the glow of his distracting smartphone. Elsewhere the yellow and red figures displayed as a diptych–The Fool pair—gleefully prance through apocalyptic landscapes, seemingly unaware of or indifferent to their surroundings. Towering over the landscape, they imply the Angel and the Devil sitting atop our collective shoulders, a Janus figure on two sides of the same coin, framing the exhibition as an introspective space.
The architectural elements and sceneries that punctuate each painting transform the gallery into a large landscape. The wild fires seem to be catching up with the protagonists, the lone rudimentary rural houses simultaneously evoking American expansion and decline.
Instead of standing at the edge, the viewer is standing in an open field, observing the periphery, the outsiders, the forms and figures that cross over into our reality.
Kyle Dunn (b. 1990) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He grew up in Michigan and received his BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). His solo Into Open Air opened at PPOW in 2020, preceded by Thierry Goldberg Gallery, 2018, in New York and Dunn has been included in group exhibitions at Galerie Maria Bernheim, Zurich; Little Berlin, Philadelphia, PA; Nationale, Portland, OR; Part 2 Gallery; Oakland, CA; and Ground Floor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.
Text: MB; Photos: Andy Hermann
11 JUNE – 24 JULY 2021