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Dan Witz

Mosh Pits, Humans and Otherwise

Solo Exhibition
June 30 - July 30, 2011
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 30 from 6—8pm

NEW YORK, NY (June 1, 2011) — Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to present Mosh Pits, Human and Otherwise, recent works by Brooklyn-based artist Dan Witz, in what will be his first solo exhibition at the gallery. Mosh Pits, Human and Otherwise features large-scale oil paintings on canvas from Witz’s celebrated Mosh Pit series—produced over the past ten years—marking the first time works in the series have been exhibited together.

Dan Witz is known for hyper-realistic figurative painting, with a career spanning over three decades in both studio work and street art interventions. Applying old master techniques, he achieves impressively convincing trompe l’oeil illusions of light, shadow and depth in his finely rendered portraits, landscapes and still lifes. The artist recently added digital media tools to his process (having previously used traditional projection methods). Combining old master techniques and digital technology, he photographs his subjects, composes in photoshop, prints an a-chromatic underpainting on canvas then glazes and scumbles over this foundation using traditional representational painting. Although equally time consuming and labor intensive compared to his pre-digital practice, Witz finds that new technology provides a unique opportunity for realist painters to evolve. Through his work, Witz continues to skillfully simulate the three-dimensional quality of reality as seen through the eye (rather than the flatness of photography as seen through a camera lens) with remarkable accuracy.

Influenced by his background as a musician in post-punk noise bands during the downtown scene of New York in the early 1980s, the Mosh Pit motif marries Witz’s two passions—performing and painting, both heavily fuelled by the rebellious spirit of art and music of his generation. In contrast to paintings that portray throngs of punk youth, titled after music venues such as ABC No Rio, Witz expands upon the crowd theme to include a rush-hour herd of suit-wearing businessmen in Grand Central Station in addition to non-human subjects in other works with animals such as a pack of fighting dogs and a writhing mass of rats. Offsetting the aggressive tone and group energy of the Mosh Pits, additional works represent Witz’s captivating portraiture with isolated female subjects whose faces are illuminated by the screens of their mobile devices and a group of paintings which depict figures inspired by erotic fetish subcultures. All of Witz’s works express a provocative point of view, informed by an artist who constantly strives to challenge his audience as well as himself.

Born in 1957 in Chicago and currently based in Brooklyn, Dan Witz attended Rhode Island School of Design from 1975-77 and came to New York in 1978 to attend Cooper Union, receiving a  BFA in 1980. In 1982, he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1992 and 2000, he received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and in 1998 he received a fellowship from the Public Art Fund. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide and featured in numerous books and publications. Witz’s first monograph In Plain View: 30 Years of Artworks Illegal and Otherwise was published by Gingko Press in 2010; the book spans 30 years of the prolific artist’s career.