Beneath a yellow sun in a cheerless sky, an owl-like creature, purple with red-rimmed eyes, roosts on top of a banjo. A metal chain tethers it to a large orb on a scorched earth, giving lie to the trendy red stockings and high heels. The head of a blue flashlight juts out from under a wing, and talons grasp a sphere—is it a crystal ball? Alas, all the crystal balls, flashlights, music, eyes, and sunlight in the world cannot extricate this being from isolation and doom.
Everything and Nothing, painted in 2020, is part of American artist Dana Schutz’s first one-woman show in London, opening on September 16 at the Thomas Dane Gallery. She once painted a series about the last man on earth. Is this now the last woman? The exhibition is titled “Shadow of a Cloud Moving Slowly,” and it is impossible not to see some of these works through the prism of the current pandemic. Known for large, colorful canvases that pose existential questions, as well as for her keen self-analysis, Schutz welcomes multiple interpretations of the symbolic elements she commingles with tangled bodies. She wants the viewer to “finish the painting,” which means that the guessing game is part of the fun.