The notion that art is nothing less than a model for freedom, is again apparent in Walter Dahn’s screen prints from 2014, for which he uses silk and emulsion paint. The found imagery, textual fragments and slogans which these works are based on, often appear vaguely familiar to the viewer. A photograph of an early ethnological expedition to Australian Aborigines is combined with an album cover for the Scottish indie band Primal Scream, the unequivocal slogan “Punk is the sound of my soul” with a photo of a follower of the Indian Naga cult proudly riding naked on a horse, and Oscar Wilde’s well-known bon mot “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” with a photograph of one of the first woman surfers in America. Dahn’s life-long interest in music, which was already an important point of reference in his early works, becomes increasingly foregrounded in the most recent output. The name of the band Lonesome Savages is combined with a “shoe tossing” image, an allusion to street art and hip hop culture. The work Three records melds iconic elements from three famous album covers by The Smiths, the Sex Pistols and The National.Read More
In the three decades between the two groups of work Dahn not only experimented with such artistic media as film and photography, but also ultimately abandoned painting, which he had challenged for such a long time. Even if it never came to a rupture in his artistic project, a break with the medium appeared inevitable. The turning away from painting occurred gradually. For a long time Dahn’s screen prints looked like painting, the screen painted with quasi-painterly gestures. Later imagery, painted with the assistance of an overhead projector, imitated almost exactly the look of screen-printing. For Dahn the current screen prints are also nothing less than the logical continuation of his painting, a perpetuation, which has nonetheless been achieved by non-painterly means. These new works too are largely unique pieces. The prints are sustained by their colouring, their lineal melody, the balance of their painterly surfaces, their subtle humour and dense content. They are emanations of a life lived. Pictorial emanations, calmly informed by observations of the beauty that we chance upon in the course of our lives, which will subsequently haunt our minds like an echo.
Text courtesy Sprüth Magers.