P·P·O·W is pleased to present Night Pictures, Kyle Dunn’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. In a new series of highly detailed paintings rendered in acrylic on panel, Dunn collapses the studio, the home, and the city into a singular arena where the dramas of artistic production, interpersonal relationships, mediated connections, and metropolitan living are played out on an unnervingly surreal and darkly humorous stage. Combining a broad range of melodramatic references including the Art Nouveau posters of the French diva Sarah Bernhardt, the set-designs of post-war Hollywood, and the technicolor palettes of 1960s Italian sex comedies, Dunn elucidates the contemporary masculine emotional landscape in an age of technological and environmental anxiety.
Night Pictures’ youthful and queer protagonist, supple and seductive, yet at times dissociative and withdrawn, oscillates between being and image, self-expression and self-objectification. A composite of the artist, his partner, and men from a well of art historical, social, and stock imagery, Dunn’s diva is frequently presented alone as his emotional range unfolds across a temporally un-sequenced yet spatially continuous setting. In Paper Angel, 2023, the figure is presented as a reflection, crouching in front of a standing mirror and gazing towards a carefully detailed still-life suggestive of daily routine and ennui. A white silhouetted paper angel rises from the drudgery, breezily fluttering in place on the wall above, while a cast shadow of ornamental ironwork enshrines the figure within a prison of indulgent angst.
Throughout the exhibition Dunn both relishes and pokes fun at the psychological burdens of contemporary courtship. While highly attuned to environmental texture and ornamentation, Dunn does not situate his subjects comfortably. In each painting, figural distortion lends an emotional ambivalence that is charged by a uniquely cosmopolitan claustrophobia. In works such as The Hunt, 2022, Dunn paints his lead preparing for a night out. Depicted with all the trappings needed to seduce a mate, including makeup, perfume, a cocktail, a fashionable wardrobe, and, of course, a beautiful body, the figure turns longingly towards his reflection, and away from the illumination of his iPhone and the messages it may or may not hold. Dunn replaces the sidewalk with a mysterious winter forest and includes an image of Pieter Bruegel’s The Hunters in the Snow leaning against a messy chest of drawers. His figure’s canine companion already out the door, Dunn reveals a different kind of hunt at play in the 21st century.
Kyle Dunn (b. 1990) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and received his BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD. His work has been included in exhibitions at P·P·O·W, New York, NY; Marlborough Gallery, London, UK; GRIMM, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; and Maria Bernheim, Zurich, Switzerland; among others. His work is in the collections of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; the Sunpride Foundation, Kowloon, Hong Kong, and X Museum, Beijing, China. In 2022, his work was exhibited at the ICA, Miami, FL in Fire Figure Fantasy: Selections from ICA Miami’s Collection. Dunn has been featured in various publications including The New York Times, AnOther Magazine, W Magazine, and Juxtapoz among others.