DAN HUDSON: Theories of Entanglement
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB
Oct. 24, 2014 to Jan. 25, 2015
By Steven Ross Smith
Dan Hudson, "Subway," 2008, oil on canvas, 36" x 48".
Artists harbour degrees of obsessiveness, overt or submerged, in their personalities. Without it, good art would likely not be made. Dan Hudson’s Theories of Entanglement provides evidence for this. The 17 works, in many media, selected by curator Anne Ewen, comprise a survey of Hudson’s production between 1984 and 2013, ably demonstrating his acknowledged obsessions. Featured are nine paintings in oil or acrylic, a four-part diorama suite, two big-screen time-lapse videos, one lenticular photo piece, and a landscape-based video.
Dan Hudson, "Raven," 1990, oil on canvas, 82" x 98".
Hudson’s tenacity is evident in his attention to detail, in his fascination with layers, and in the work behind the work. For example, Fragments of a Year – Barrier Lake, a time-lapse, looping video ‘nature painting’ in a gold-leaf frame – plays tradition against contemporary. In the editing, the handheld segments are given additional motion, creating a coherent yet unstable image that’s in constant flux. The piece took six years and involved the artist building a computer that could handle his mammoth digital files.
"Fragments of a Year – Barrier Lake"
Dan Hudson, "Fragments of a Year – Barrier Lake," 2014, looping 5K video in gold-leaf frame, installation view.
Hudson’s art is process and project based, and engages with physics, nature, mortality, layering, permanence/impermanence and myriad materials. He also acknowledges icons, found objects, daily rituals and the films of Michael Snow and Roman Polanski as inspiration.
Dan Hudson, "Pump," 1984, acrylic and photo collage on panel, 48" x 48".
The two videos Winter Hof and Time Traveller, playing in separate screening rooms, are subtle and minimalist, despite their near cinema-sized screen formats. They manipulate motion and time, with a voyeuristic quality and hints of human narratives never quite revealed. They are realized over days or seasons of filming and labour-intensive editing.
Dan Hudson, "Golden Stag," 2012, oil on canvas, 35" x 59".
Seven of the nine paintings are densely layered. For example, in Pump, found photographs provide a hazy under layer over which intense acrylic colours – a predominance of mauve, green, yellow and browny-orange – render an iconic image of a moose in a radiant pool of water. The photo directly under the moose’s belly shows two summery men holding up cans of beer. Derive your own meaning from the juxtaposition. Holiday in the Sun features human figures in the ground layer with real animal bones set onto the canvas and painted over. Ghostly images in later layers appear to the attentive viewer.
Dan Hudson, "The Seasons," 2007-2009, mixed media / multimedia dioramas, installation view.
Hudson’s diorama quartet The Seasons is set in reclaimed CPR picture frames. The constructions are assembled from found and acquired objects: doll house furniture; miniature plastic animals, skeletons and toy soldiers; and a sculpted Atlas who shoulders the world and rotates beneath pulsing northern lights. The concern is with mythologies, surfaces and subterranean realms, approached with a mischievous dash of humour.
Dan Hudson, "Time Traveller," 2011, video installation with surround sound, installation view.
Hudson’s work might be called collagist, and is situated in the realm of current cross-media art practices, although his eclecticism does not allow easy categorization. Theories of Entanglement offers tantalizing samples, most engaging in the multiplicity of ideas, media and imagery. We recognize icons – mountains, moose, urban and rural scapes, passing time – and perhaps ourselves. All familiar, but made strange and compelling.