Danny Minnick: Power to the Planet
February 16 - March 15, 2017
De Re Gallery, Los Angeles
By SHANA NYS DAMBROT, MAR. 2017
Danny Minnick is a painter who isn’t afraid to get dirty. Not only his canvases but his studio itself is a riot of dark color, thick paint, layer upon layer of pigments, fragments, splinters, kick treads, brush and splatter work, gestural abstraction and rough schematic drawing. One may think of individual works as emerging from the studio as pieces cut out from its whole cosmic cloth, whose boundaries are arbitrary in that their edges seem to stop the unfurling of constant activity only at certain points; it is easy to imagine each painting continuing on in all directions past where its frame now cuts. And this idea of continuum also extends to include the actual studio itself, in the form of oil-based mixed media works culled from and executed upon actual sections of the worked-over studio floor.
Huge and mostly chock-full of an impossible density of marks and details, even the instances of so-called negative space are not empty but rather thickly washed in solid pigment. For example The Melt, one of several imposingly large-scale works, which depicts a dinosaur-like creature and one of the artist’s signature skeleton figures. Its pictorial content is mostly white space, which is actually thick white paint, and -- especially in the context of the show’s stated goal of engaging on the social issues surrounding environmental policy and ecological subjugation at the hand of man -- evokes melting ice caps and the millennia-long history of the earth. The schematic figures which populate these primordial art historical lands are conceptual avatars for mankind. With the figures evoking both graffiti and cave painting, this effect is heightened, even as the field of pale teal and piquant moments of artificial chromatic highlights serve to tether it to the world of man and culture, the world of modern painting.
Most of the works in the show are nowhere near as “empty” however. In most compositions, every inch is populated, densely, with layers that stack and weave and burn and dodge and bounce behind and loop on top, and colors and lines and all manner of mark-making including splatter and knife. At a minimum the size of a large door, but more often ranging from quite large to enormous, you could blindfold yourself and choose any ten square inches of any one of them and have enough information, detail, energy, life, balance, urgency and abstract narrative to claim an entire visual world.
There’s an almost organic cacophony to the optical fabric of the works, yet there is not only naturalistic thing about them. It’s very consciously studio work -- and to that end, the studio literally stays in them, as a stand-in for personal narrative and empathy for process. It’s all very untidy, physically and emotionally, as it depicts and contains not only its profusion of color and paint, texture and surface, but also the literal dust and detritus of an iconic, classically sexy mess -- the artist’s studio. These traces of where it was made are as prominent as the exuberance of how. WM
Shana Nys Dambrot is an art critic, curator, and author based in Downtown LA. She is the Arts Editor for the LA Weekly, and a contributor to Flaunt, Art and Cake, Artillery, and Palm Springs Life.
She studied Art History at Vassar College, writes essays for books and catalogs, curates and juries a few exhibitions each year, is a dedicated Instagram photographer and author of experimental short fiction, and speaks at galleries, schools, and cultural institutions nationally. She is a member of ArtTable and the LA Press Club, and sits on the Boards of Art Share-LA and the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art, the Advisory Council of Building Bridges Art Exchange, and the Brain Trust of Some Serious Business.
Photo of Shana Nys Dambrot by Osceola Refetoff
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