Known for his miniature and meditative oil paintings of the natural world, Attoe here exhibits three new bite-sized beauties. In the five-inch tall titular work above, a forest stream glows ice-blue illuminating the tiny figures hidden amongst the pine trees. In a similarly-sized square piece two skeletons erect an imperfect abode on a hilltop lit by lightning. Lastly in “Beached” we see a whale-like form, punctured by scores of tiny points of light, and the minuscule humans assembling ceremonially around the behemoth. These works have a timeless quality to them but each contain an eerie intrusion of culture or humanity; light is the protagonist here, light as a guide.
In a new direction Attoe exhibits a very large painting of a neon, an interesting in between zone for the neon works and miniatures, here painting illusionistic tubes of light. In this work a puffer jacket mountain man tells, perhaps, himself “You are such a great genius it’s amazing” as bemused blips of neon doo-dads circle his head. The delusional potential of artistic isolation is here both ridiculed and sympathized with. The most sensational part of this exhibition is of course the two large neon wall works that bathe the gallery in colored light and create a church-like—or dive-bar like—reverence in the room. “Go easy on yourselves” a topless lady tells us, emerging from the mountains like an angel—or stripper—and reflected in the lake below. Across the room a tweaker cat hangs upside down admitting “People need to party” and eerily encouraging us to do so. These light-based works show a dual reading of rural Americana signage from the holy to the prurient and tease a kind of contemporary rugged individualism that goes beyond good and evil.
Dan Attoe (b. 1975 Washington State) lives and works in Washougal, WA. He has been exhibiting painting, sculpture and performance since graduating in 2004 with an MFA from the University of Iowa. Recent solo exhibitions were held at Western Exhibitions in Chicago, Half Gallery in New York and Peres Projects, Berlin. Interesting group shows include many museums around the world from Astrup Fernley Museum in Oslo, to the ICA in Portland, Maine; the DESTE museum in Athens to the Schirn Kunstalle in Frankfurt.