Dan Hays, a British painter based in London, pursues an on-going project begun ten years ago. Entitled Colorado Impressions, this body of work had a fortuitous inception, as the artist reports: “Through an Internet search in 1999 I discovered another Dan Hays, living in Colorado, USA. His website consists of numerous photographs of the Rocky Mountain landscape surrounding his home, as well as a live webcam. With his permission a series of oil paintings based on his pictures was initiated. … My research into photographic source material has extended to websites across the whole state of Colorado.” This way of painting as the representation of an “artificial” image goes back around fifteen years, to when he was using pictures from mail order catalogues as a way of freeing himself from history. The cage series, one of which won the Johm Moores painting prize in 1997, prefigured the process of juxtaposition of contrasted colour fields that can be seen in Colorado Impressions.
Fascinated by the mechanisms of illusionist representation, Dan Hays developed new potentialities for a “resolution” of the complex relationships between painting and photography. In his view the pointillist analysis of light, as the ultimate avatar of the Impressionist movement, enters naturally into resonance with the digital structure of the computer-compressed image. No need to go outdoors: the artist, without ever leaving his studio, simply observes it on his computer screen via a webcam.
For Hays, Colorado and its Rocky Mountains represent the “American wilderness” as part of the American Dream. He recalls the 2002 American Sublime exhibition at the Tate Gallery, where he admired the Hudson River School’s fascinating landscapes and the transcendentalist philosophy that influenced artists. He was all the more impressed by Twilight in the Wilderness (1860) by Frederic Edwin Church when he discovered that Church had in fact painted it in his New York studio, taking his inspiration from a sunset he saw through his window.
In this exhibition, Dan Hays also refers to the “sublime” in another way: he revisits the Yogi Bear cartoon character from the series produced by Hanna-Barbera, by representing someome dressed as him tackling some rapids in a rubber dinghy, in Transcendental Meditation (Chaney Family Collection, Houston) and, subsequently, gliding gently across a Monet lily pond on a pedal boat towards his double.
Dan Hays was born in 1966 in London.
Dans Hays’s exhibitions include: The Nunnery, London; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Columbus Museum of Art; Manchester Art Gallery; Southampton City Art Gallery; Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham; Platform, London; Galerie Zürcher, Paris, Wolfsburg Kunstverien; ICA, London; Den Frie Udstillingsbygning, Copenhagen; Gana Art Gallery, Seoul; Musée Marmottan, Paris; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Meymac; Up River Loft, Kunming, China, Greenberg Van Doren, New York; Cranbrook Art Museum, MI; FRAC Ile-de-France, Gasworks, London.