Dan Colen


chewing gum on canvas
105 x 85 inches

A lot of my work is about what’s abstract and what’s pictorial. Is it bubblegum, or is it an abstract painting using bubblegum? The energy comes from walking that line and watching things dip this way and that. – Dan Colen

Artist Dan Colen’s choice of media is driven by his continuous conceptual exploration, looking for the material or the idea that presents the artist with a new challenge.  Beginning in 2008, Colen began experimenting with chewing gum as a medium for painting, his first time employing non-traditional materials. The material reminded him of bored teenagers, or the trash found on a street corner. He has personally chewed the gum, heated it in water, microwaved it, and used a variety of tools to apply the stretched out, molten goo. In this work, Mirror, Mirror…, Colen holds back on the accumulations, reveling in the painterly smears and interplay between the limited palette of gum. The intense physicality of the material is in line with Colen’s other series with trash, flower petals, or paint splotches applied to appear like random splatters or bird droppings. Apart from the abstract works, Colen is also known for his figurative pop culture references to classic cartoons like Disney’s Pinocchio or Chuck Jones’ road runner landscapes. Colen has exhibited extensively since the early 2000s when he was part of the renowned group of emerging young artists like Dash Snow, Ryan McGinley, and Nate Lowman in Lower East Side New York. His work is held Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo; Dakis Joannou Collection, Athens; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Jimenez-Colon Collection, Ponce; LACMA, Los Angeles County; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and the Whitney Museum, New York.