Sargent’s Daughters is pleased to present, Inside Out, Home and Place, an exhibition of work by Anton van Dalen. Van Dalen immigrated to New York from Holland and, since 1971 has lived in the East Village, documenting the dramatic cultural shifts in the neighborhood through paintings, drawings, prints, stencils, collage works, and performances. The exhibition at Sargent’s Daughters will feature works that span the arc of van Dalen’s career, including his 1965 film Flowers in my Eye; his seminal paintings from the 1980s depicting eerie encounters with science, technology, and nature; a large-scale sculptural work that will contain live pigeons, and a body of recent collage works.
Beginning his career as an artist playing the role of passive observer, van Dalen quietly captured the rapidly changing scene in the East Village, depicting the transformation of the people, cars, and storefronts that populated Avenue A as the neighborhood’s immigrant populations shifted and the East Village gentrified into a barely recognizable version of its earlier form. Through his work, van Dalen at once captured the sadness, tension, and vibrancy of the 70s and 80s, and the politics, commercialization, and nostalgia for a bygone era in the decades that followed. This exhibition, which will be presented concurrently with a solo show of van Dalen’s work at Romeo on the Lower East Side, is a homecoming of sorts for van Dalen, a presentation of works in the very neighborhood that has served as his longtime source of inspiration, and in which he continues to live and work today.
Inside Out, Home and Place will bring together a series of van Dalen’s works, providing a meditation on his longstanding interest in the clash between nature and technology, capitalism and humanity, and the way in which one’s sense of home and place in the world can be an ever-shifting construction due to external and often uncontrollable circumstances. The exhibition will feature his black and white animated film Flowers in my Eye, which features the imagery that has informed much of his practice. Set to Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which traces the evolution of humankind from chaos to enlightenment, Flowers in my Eye unfolds through organic drawings that mirror this trajectory, though offers a more ambiguous assessment as to the ultimate enlightenment of humanity, suggesting instead that nature may be of a higher order.
The film also reflects van Dalen’s ongoing interest in presenting imagery of birds, a mode of representation that also enables him to explore the notion of alternate perspectives and a ‘bird’s eye view.’ For decades, van Dalen has raised High Flyer pigeons on his roof, and the image of the pigeon is present in much of his work. The centerpiece of the exhibition will be his work, a large-scale pigeon coop created in the shape of a car, filled with live pigeons. This work was originally exhibited at Exit Art in Anton van Dalen’s solo exhibition “The Memory Cabinet” in 1988. Also on view will be a series of paintings from the ‘80s, including B.F. Skinner With Project Pigeon from his “Space Flight” series, which melds nature, science, and technology, as we encounter a scene in which it appears a pigeon is about to be inserted into a space shuttle, and Aliens Rescue Animals from Central Park Zoo, in which we see zoo animals being beamed into a spaceship from the center of Manhattan.
The exhibition will also feature a body of van Dalen’s recent collage work, Museum Birds. These works mimic the style of Perugino’s Renaissance portraits, but here cast human figures sitting for portraits embellished with bird wings and beaks. The works offer a humorous reinterpretation of great art and the classical masters, caricaturing the notion of an enduring legacy, and infusing them with the notion of mutability that informs so much of van Dalen’s practice. Throughout the exhibition, van Dalen will hang abstract, hand-made borders featuring natural motifs that will frame the works, creating a unified presence between the works and infusing the exhibition with a sense of place.
Anton van Dalen was born in Amstelveen, Holland and lives in New York City. He is represented by P·P·O·W Gallery in New York. He has been included in group exhibitions at notable institutions including the: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; New Museum, New York; Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, and the New York Historical Society. He has also been the subject of solo exhibitions at: Temple Gallery, Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia; University Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and Exit Art, New York. Avenue A Cut-Out Theatre has toured since 1995 both nationally and internationally, and has been shown at numerous institutions including The Drawing Center, the Museum of Modern Art, and The New York Historical Society. His work will be featured simultaneously in a solo exhibition at Romeo Gallery.
Sargent's Daughters gratefully acknowledges the assistance of PPOW Gallery with the organization of this exhibition.