(selected by Richard Higlett)
Sonata For A Wall Drawing, 2008
Dan Rees' work depends on the actions of others … we all do, as we do not exist in a community of isolation but a community of ideas and influences. Art like everything in life is not the result of an individual, and the idea of the artist as the unique, sedentary creative genius has made way for the artists whose methodology and role is one of catalyst and quiet observer of the zeitgeist. The processes that inform the ecology of artists and their respective practices in turn shape Rees' numerous works.
Rees has initiated collaborations with artists who are his peers, notably the conceptualists working today such as Jonathan Monks (with whom Rees worked as his assistant), Cerith Wyn Evans and Simon Starling. The installations created may be the result of a tangible relationship, for example over a game of ping-pong or through an interaction with an artwork, where the object is a representation of the artist's psyche and presence is through absence.
In 'A Cup of Tea with Gavin Turk' (2007), Rees added a tea stain of his own next to Gavin Turk's cup mark on a White Cube limited edition print. They become associated through sharing marks on the same page. We spend our lives existing in other forms, footprints in the rain, songs that move and define us, materials and images existing as mute representations of our presence in the world that are autonomous in our absence. This work echoes Daniel Spoerri's 'Snare Pictures', where meal settings with fellow artists are preserved in vitrines, the residual archive of a dialogue distilled in empty plates and half eaten bread rolls.
In Rees' piece the conversation is mythical and hypothetical, through the tea stains they meet but exist in different times. As the observer we are party to a dialogue that is purely fictional and the space exists where we can invent what they may have discussed. While a complex argument over the value of the intervention and the issue of whether Rees' has increased or decreased the selling price of the edition comes to our attention, the action is initially humorous. Jokes and puns being part of the conceptualist canon from Duchamp to Fluxus, arriving at the artists working today with whom he has a strong empathy.
In 'Variable Peace Up to 21' (2006) Rees references the work of Július Koller, who played table tennis against a mirror. Rees films himself and other artists playing Ping-Pong while discussing ideas about art. The 'Variable Peace' refers to the tiny differences in the duration of the silence between strokes. These become akin to the spaces in between words as a physical narrative is created.
Most recently Rees' work has moved to explore the relationship art has in suggesting the transformation of objects and the connections between things as opposed to the action of the artist. In 'Sonata for a Wall Drawing' (2008) images of trees are projected on to a gallery wall accompanied by the sound of improvised piano. A section of the projected film is left blank allowing the light from the projection bulb to cast an illuminated square on the gallery wall. This moment of nothing reveals something, a small wall drawing of some steps. While Rees cites the work of Sol Le Wit and the way music can facilitate interpretation and meaning, like previous strategies that he has evolved for making art, ambiguity now becomes a technique in itself; physical narrative is created.
Richard Higlett, 2008
Dan Rees (b. 1982, Swansea, Wales) studied at Camberwell College of Arts (2001-4)and Städelschule, Frankfurt (2007-8) before relocating to Berlin.
Solo exhibitions include MOT International (with Alan Brooks), London (2008); Something To Fill That Empty Feeling, Galeria T293, Naples (2007); Things I Did When I Was A Young Man, Mission Gallery, Swansea (2007); Three Works in September, Parade Gallery, London (2007); Music to my Years, Galerie Mille d'Air, Berlin (2006);
Selected group exhibitions include The Store, Tulips and Roses, Vilnius (2008); The World Is Flat, Overgarden, Copenhagen (2008); Freunde und Bekannte, Sparwasser HQ, Berlin (2008); Off Pages, The Bookmakers, Turin (2007); Without,, Curated by Adam Carr, Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris (2007); The Moment You Realise You Are Lost, Galerie Johan Koenig, Berlin (2007); Deadpan Exchange, Super Bien, Berlin (2007); Future Show, Zustand, Berlin (2007); Can Your Eyes See The Love In Our Eyes, Galerie Mille d'Air Berlin (2007); Some Time Waiting, Kadist Art Foundation, Paris (2007); For One Day Only, Kadist Art Foundation, Paris (2006); Today Is A Beautiful Day, Nog Gallery, London (2006); Known and the Unknown, Gallerie Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen (2006); Home for lost ideas, Galerie General Public, Berlin (2006).
His project, The Home for Lost Ideas, will be published in book form during 2008. Dan Rees lives and works in Berlin.