Anton van Dalen simultaneously has two solo shows at separate galleries in New York City. Romeo will “focus on my street inspired drawings, raw works, mostly on paper,” according to Anton. And Sargent’s Daughters will “show more intimate poetic representations, with a mix of mediums,” he tells us.
We reviewed Anton van Dalen’s 2015 solo show at PPOW Gallery, New Works and the Avenue A Cut-Out Theatre.
Valerie Smaldone, “one of radio’s most recognized female voices,” launched “Hit Makers: Music Icons in Performance and Conversation,” a new conversation and music series. Read about Valerie’s “Music Makers” at Radio Ink and the Sheen Center.
A forty-year resident of the East Village, Anton van Dalen is a neighborhood icon. For decades, his work has documented and depicted the problems of his dynamic neighborhood and its looming surroundings, from junkie dystopia to bank-branch mall. Along with making art, he breeds white pigeons from his Avenue A rooftop and reportedly kept roosters in his home. And he assisted Saul Steinberg, secretly, for thirty years. His paintings commingle these influences: several of these East Village views are from up high and employ the “graphic clarity” that van Dalen has described of Steinberg: “the idea of drawing with a single line, no shading, etc.”
Sunrise in the East Village: “Self-Portrait with Pigeon Coop Looking South,” 2014
Sunset in the East Village: “Self-Portrait with Pigeon Coop Looking North,” 2014
New Works is a series of paintings that feature the new East Village, fully “cleaned up” and luxury-class. Van Dalen selects the polarized colors of sunrise and sunset, perhaps to coordinate with his diurnal pigeon schedule. Van Dalen’s street scenes look flattened and blocky, like colorful dioramas or stage sets, offering a noncommittal interpretation that might be an adaptation to a changing neighborhood. Instead of realism, Van Dalen expresses his vision of the East Village in a naive, though skillful, painting style based in drawing and rich in geometries, figuration, and perspective: just short of cartoonish Canaletto.
“Avenue A, Day/Night,” 2008-2011
The burdens we carry: details of Anton van Dalen paintings
The colorful naïvete relents in Avenue A Cut-Out Theatre, the set for his one-man puppet show, which he has previously performed at MoMA and the New York Historical Society. Here, Van Dalen stages violent clashes with police in riot gear. Could this be his telling of the brutal repression, usually invisible, that paves the way for a more user-friendly East Village? Driving out the undesirables?
Anton van Dalen in “East Village U.S.A.”
If so, then we can look for skepticism in Van Dalen’s vision of Alphabet City coexistence. Answers might await when he performs at PPOW next weekend. For now, check out this great interview at Interview with Martha Wilson.