The Nature of Things to Come: Dan May

by Annie OwensPosted on

Dan May‘s (HF Vol.9) irrepressive imagination never seems to find time for rest. His latest solo show The Nature of Things to Come opens Saturday September 5th at Copro Gallery. His cast of characters once again have us guessing as to the narratives played out on each canvas. The botanical environments grower ever more lush, deeper and more mysterious. Dan tells us a thing or two about this new body of work comprised of large paintings in acrylic on wood.

“What Might Have Been Lost”

HF: What’s the inspiration for the work in the show? Can you talk about the painting “Covet”? The hulking beast, the hidden face, the egg??? Love those drawings of yours on Flickr. Especially “The Delivery”. Adorable.

Big plans for 2010?

“The Delivery” – Graphite drawing

Dan May: So yeah, this show was a fun one. It’s a smaller more concentrated effort than my last solo show. I wanted to create work that pushed the narrative boundary… My hope is that these pieces really get the viewer thinking. As far as inspiration goes, I am constantly thinking/dreaming up new “scenes” in my head… There are always forces in our lives steering us one way or another. I’ve had a hell of a year when it comes to my family (my father has been ill), so naturally these things seep into the work on some level. To me the work presents various moments in a time and place just beyond our world. I guess what i’m trying to say is that the whole process of creating these images is very organic in nature. I know it sounds weird, but there’s not a great deal of planning that goes into them… Sometimes i’m driving around, running some errands when a fully realized image comes into my head… I’ll create a tiny doodle that only I can decipher. From there I begin to “sculpt” the image with paint… It changes shape, color, and even composition until eventually the painting feels is complete. I don’t always know what these images mean, but for what ever reason they seem to take on different meanings for each individual that views them… And I really enjoy that. My hope is that this constant stream of consciousness never dries up.


“Covet” is an image that can go many ways… I hesitate in saying much as I’d like keep the mystery alive and would rather have the viewer develop their own personal meaning. I’ve always enjoyed the mysterious side of life… We know so little about our world and our existence. That bit of intrigue has always stuck with me and I hope it shines through in my work. I’m glad to hear that you noticed she’s hiding behind the giant egg… Which is how I see it. Some see it as her actual head :) other than that, I think I wanted to push my technique as well (this is always a goal with each new piece).

I tried to strengthen my compositions. Looking back over the years, I realized that my work featured one or two creatures within a landscape… I feel this body of work introduces a variety of new compositions and really feels stronger from my perspective. I tried to find some of the strongest elements in my work… What really defines my “style” so to speak and really bring it to the forefront… hair, grass, foliage, furry creatures.

“Tangled Nature”

” When the Music Ends”

As for 2010 I have a show in February. With Travis Lampe at Rotofugi in Chicago, and then a big solo in June at Gallery 1988 la… As well a slue of other group shows. I plan to hit up comic con, Art Basel, and hopefully a bunch of other fun events along the way. Oh, and thanks, yeah the drawings are fun, I will have a few new ones for Heiko Mueller’s “don’t wake daddy” show in December I used to draw all the time as a kid so it’s nice to get away from the paint once in a while and play with graphite from time to time!

Gallery Preview…

Dan May’s website

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