Dan Hays, ‘Colorado Impression 12a (Sunrise, Beaver Creek, 11-09-02)’, oil on canvas, 152x203cm, 2003.  the artist. [enlarge]

Dan Hays, ‘Colorado Impression 12a (Sunrise, Beaver Creek, 11-09-02)’, oil on canvas, 152x203cm, 2003.
the artist.

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REVIEW

Dan Hays: Impressions of Colorado

Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton
7 July – 27 August

Reviewed by: Benjamin Thomson »

There will be, seemingly, an inevitable collision in store between the current style employed by Dan Hays and the mode of visual deconstruction developed by Piet Mondrian. Within moments of walking around his ‘Impressions of Colorado’ exhibition, the analogies with Fauvism, the Impressionist perspective, the parody with Post-Impressionistic techniques as well as the emerging similarities with Mondrian were stressfully obvious.

The works are based on over-compressed jpegs (mostly of the landscape around Colorado) and their resulting oversimplified block-like images that have been faithfully brushed onto the canvas by Hays, turning them into paintings of painstaking detail and effort. But the images, not being interpreted, are quite simply translated into enlarged versions of the originals. Thus, Hays very successfully provides us with huge painted jpegs.

Much emphasis is also placed on the peculiarity of there being another Dan Hays in Colorado and the fact that the State of Colorado is itself a 4 x 3 rectangle (the proportions of a standard size monitor). These are no more than coincidences but they seem to have merited significant artistic meaning.

In a recent interview Hays acknowledged that the landscapes are only the vehicle of his paintings and therefore do not hold much significance as subjects. In contrast to his earlier pictures, for example Harmony in Green (1997) or his award winning Negative Capability (1998) that are essentially human-scale images of an empty hamster cage, the subject is very significant and each picture is very successful in proposing new challenges to us as the viewer and our relationship with painting.

Impressions of Colorado leaves the promise of mouth-watering contemplation and the sense of being nailed to the floor of the exhibition, frustratingly unfulfilled. The points raised by Hays’ latest work have value but each is on display to such a literal extent that I am left unchallenged and my artistic vocabulary is, unsatisfyingly, unsatisfied.

Venue detail:
Southampton City Art Gallery »
Civic Centre, Commercial Road, Southampton SO14 7LP

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