Just after completing her Masters of Fine Art at Columbia University in 2002, Schutz burst on to the New York Art scene with her first solo exhibition at Zach Feuer Gallery, Frank from Observation. The show was based on the conceit of Schutz as the last painter on earth and the imagined ‘Frank’ as the last man on earth. The metanarratives around which Schutz structures her works are what continually capture our imaginations. What happened to this woman in Ocular to make her claw at her eyes? Schutz responds, “although the paintings themselves are not specifically narrative, I often invent imaginative systems and situations to generate information. These situations usually delineate a site where making is a necessity, audiences potentially don’t exist, objects transcend their function and reality is malleable” (Dana Schutz cited in: Anon., Press Release, London, Victoria Miro, ‘Painting 2004: Group Exhibition’, 2004, online).
In Schutz’s genre-bending paintings, where still lives are personified and portraits become a chronicle of events, anything is possible. Before painting, the artist makes a list of ideas ranging from stuffed-animal fights to time machines before ever putting brush to canvas. The spontaneity of her creative process, so clearly exhibited in the loose handling of paint in Ocular, contributes to her work’s relativity to the moment of creation making them a true product of the time in which they were made. In illustrating these impossible situations often concerned with themes of construction, deconstruction, and merging the imagined with the real, Schutz combines her active imagination, her observations of daily life and the history of art to create a modern-day mosaic that rearranges the hierarchies of the world.
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