By Jeff Grunthaner, 2014                                                                                                                                            

Compositionally reminiscent of the work of David Salle and certain sculptural gestures in the oeuvre of Jasper Johns (especially during the 1960s), Düsseldorf-based artist Julia Dauksza augments these precedents with a decided flare for digital aesthetics. Digitality pervades her works, where the juxtaposition of elements that only becomes visible by way of a computer screen acts as a kind of specter haunting the traditional media of oil on canvas. Whether one calls this post-internet painting or proto-digital painting, Dauksza's artistry is distinguished by sprawling diasporas of figures fixed in mural-like space, like images suspended in pure virtuality, foisting on viewers a level of uncertainty where they have to interactively fill out each work—co-creating it, as it were.

In Dauksza's large-scale paintings one notes a tendency to deny any single vantage point; a compositional strategy that could be misrepresented as distraction, but which is better understood as an effort to disrupt any pretence of contemplative stillness. There is no where in her work;rather, there is a being-there in a tactile or iconographic way. The figures peopling her canvases, revenants of assembly-line industrialization, have a shadowy aspect about them, like pools of nothingness emerging from the perspectival depths of digital space, which works to both link and separate the scenes so hauntingly portrayed by her paintings.

“Milkfed” (2013) offers a particularly representative example of this. The newspaper grey tones filling out the two boys with their mother, along with the truncated waterfall beginning at the painting’s leftmost edge, indicate a life populated by stand-ins, signifiers bereft of signifieds, where the nebula of red and blue abstraction near the painting’s center contrasts vividly with the effacement of figures locked in representational space. The painting is rounded out by an item of constructivist abstraction to the bottom right and the introduction of suburban, landscaped foliage at the upper right-hand corner. This merging of the photographic and reproducible with the abstract doesn’t so much complete the painting as give it jagged edges, supplying the requisite tension for figures to appear in the process of their own disappearance. WM


visit: “On the paintings of Julia Dauksza” by Jeff Grunthaner, Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art, New York, December 2014






By Kenneth Maennchen, 2015

On the (anti­)metaphysics in the paintings of Julia Dauksza
She’s like a dreamcatcher ­ you know, this hoop with a net stretched out inside of it. She dreams lucidly and dreams other people’s dreams too, and parts of the dreams get caught in this net and composed into these works while she’s in another dream. Like a mirror that has been smashed so that it cracks everywhere, so that even though every shard is still in the right place, all the angles have their own points of view.
In Dauksza’s works, it’s all immanent, in your face, in your eyes, vivid, fresh, and I swear it feels like it’s just been painted a few hours ago, or now, or tomorrow when I try to remember it again, as if Dauksza is always there, like a ghost, always painting these very strokes I’m looking at all the time, because she hasn’t hidden the mechanisms of the act of painting from us like in some grand optical illusion ­ as in look, that’s an entire figure, and look, that’s a clearly delineated background ­ but has instead chosen to show us the sometimes brutal and maddening actuality of the medium, like some butcher who lets you watch how he slices apart the meat and cracks the ribcage open before he offers you the best bits.
It’s all immanent. There is no grand narrative allowed here, no transcendence into anything outside of the canvas. On the one hand, this forces you to recognise your own helplessness in the face of your own inability to totalise the metaphysical reality of a painting. On the other hand, this forces you to recognise the power inherent in the act of creation that precedes and denies any form of identity or closed system. You think that’s scary? Try painting these works. Composition in vertigo.
But how does it work? Let’s say it has a lot to do with the subconscious. Let’s say that we no longer accept that the subconscious works like a theatre. Let’s say it works like a machine instead, capable of producing whatever it wants, at the limits of meaning, etc., because it is capable of and does produce these things. We know better than to ask: what does it mean? We understand it is producing its own meaning. It looks like the way we produce meaning for ourselves. In the paintings of Julia Dauksza, we are unable find any autobiography, opinions or viewpoints. Just this universal subconscious act of the perpetual production of meaning.
Dauksza seems to nod to a world that pre­exists our fastidiously ordered structures. It would be too hasty to infer that she destroys or deconstructs our frameworks (which would imply that she shares them with us), starting off from within the very conceptual settlements we inhabit. It would be safer to say that Dauksza initially, with each painting, inhabits a blank canvas that is already filled with a multitude of phenomena that we may find normal when arranged in linear ways through sociological filters. However, when devoid of any anthropological context, when teeming with potential birth in an empty space, this multitude assumes neurotic proportions that have remained invisible to us, a neurosis which Dauksza is not afraid to throw back into our faces.
(I imagine her using her paintbrushes as if they were scalpels, slicing away at the very phantoms that emanate from the canvas she is working on. I imagine her cutting her way through a delirium that we all share ­ a delirium from within which we are unable to delineate reality from fantasy ­ in an attempt and struggle to give back to us the raw ingredients of a smorgasbord that we have feasted on, but with the fat cut from the bone, allowing us to see how she cuts along the bone at the same time.)
If Dauksza’s art is the reality of the reflection, then this is not only a mirror that lies below the threshold of ordinary concsiousness and waking life, but also a mirror that is stretched out horizontally, so that any in­depth consideration is also tempered with a whole surface on which to play. It is a game that Dauksza is enlargening and refining. A game that produces its own set of rules of each time, and that constantly exists at the infinite point just before it is transformed into more serious matters that we take into our own grave hands. A game we are all already always playing without really ever knowing it.
‘This must be the wood,’ she said thoughtfully to herself, ‘where things have no names. I wonder what’ll become of MY name when I go in? I shouldn’t like to lose it at all—because they’d have to give me another, and it would be almost certain to be an ugly one. But then the fun would be trying to find the creature that had got my old name! That’s just like the advertisements, you know, when people lose dogs—”ANSWERS TO THE NAME OF ‘DASH:’ HAD ON A BRASS COLLAR”—just fancy calling everything you met “Alice,” till one of them answered! Only they wouldn’t answer at all, if they were wise.’
Through the Looking­Glass, Lewis Carroll