Kent Dorn: Shadowland

Kent Dorn: Shadowland

Thursday, October 17, 2013Saturday, November 16, 2013


New York, NY USA

Freight+Volume is pleased to announce its third exhibition and second solo of the paintings of Texas-based, Carolina-born painter Kent Dorn, Shadowland, as well as the debut screening of Masshole Love, a new video by Brooklyn-based artist Rebecca Goyette, in the project space.

In Shadowland, Kent Dorn further explores a distinctly haunting wooded world and its unsettled inhabitants. With a nod to horror movies, hippie counterculture, and the rural Southern landscape of his youth, Dorn's distinct landscape paintings are not as concerned with an idyllic representation of nature as much as constructing a virtual stage for an unfolding melodrama. Littered with debris, overgrowth and remnants of past inhabitants, his landscapes are a conflation of the real and imaginary, where myths come to life.

As the title Shadowland suggests, Dorn’s landscapes allude to an interstitial space, purgatory-like, hovering between the living and dead, and the tangible or dreamed. However, for Dorn this land is not mere fantasy, but a platform for introspection on the conflicts, doubts, pleasures, and superstitions associated with the act of painting. By juxtaposing utopian art historical tropes built into the American landscape (the sublime, the utopian, the heroic) with archetypal characters (such as drifters, fugitives, mystics, outsiders, etc) he builds narratives that provide clues to help navigate an environment latent with darkness, conflict and doubt.

In Shadowland, large-scale paintings sometimes depict settings devoid of people, but full of remnants of their presence. When characters do appear, they are somewhat ghostly, maybe resting on the bank of a river or together as a group, crossing a path in the woods. The idea of escape, or reaching a final destination, seems just out of reach for these wanders, but the possibility keeps them forever locked in their world.

This sense of transitory-ness denies a literal reference to a specific time or a fixed place, and further alludes to an unsettled past and future. Dorn also alludes to mortality with reoccurring suns, moons and his simultaneous use of symbols of decay and new growth.

It would be nearly impossible to overlook the distinct manner in which Dorn renders his subjects and constructs elaborate scenarios. Materially, he incorporates watercolor washes, spray paint, acrylic, encaustic, and oil paint with the occasional palette scraping or found image. Where a delicately stained watercolor backdrop might turn serene, it doesn't take long for the alluring scene to be abruptly cut short by a dab of rich encaustic or even a necrotic glob of paint, or perhaps a broken down car – there’s a continual abjectness there, a disruption of the idyllic in both material and content, jarring the viewer back to reality.

Kent Dorn (b. 1977) studied painting at Anderson University, South Carolina and the University of Houston, Texas. Selected recent solo exhibitions include Bryan Miller Gallery (2012), McClain Gallery (2011) and Freight + Volume (2010); while group shows include Texas Biennial (2013), The Roving Eye: Aura and the Contemporary Portrait, Oakland University Art Gallery, Rochester, MI (2013), Portal, McClain Gallery, Houston, TX (2013), It Happened in the Woods, Hans Alf Gallery, Copenhagen, DK (2012), and Rattled by the Rush, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, IL (2009). Dorn lives and works in Houston.

Please join us for what promises to be a very exciting reception for the artists on Thursday, Oct 17th from 6-9pm. For further information please contact Nick Lawrence at 212-691-7700 or nick@freightandvolume.com.

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