#insight | Art World





Artist of the week





Il #MACFOCUS di questa settimana è dedicato a Dana Lok, artista americana le cui opere sono esposte alla galleria Clima, Milano nella mostra “Closer to the Metal” fino al 29 luglio.


Dana Lok lives and works in New York. She received an MFA from Columbia University in 2015 and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2016.

Her paintings and drawings play with sequence, point of view, language, illusion and flatness to investigate the magical threshold between a sign and what it points to. Lok’s paintings are driven by a fascination with the magical interaction between medium and content, surface and image



“ How do I work my way from simple building blocks to the complex world I see around me, the world of trees, fingers, fabric, rain, keyboards, wind, facts and flesh? I think I’ll go from the bottom up. Atoms arrange into molecules, which in turn make cells, cells cluster into bodies, bodies make people, and people get together to make speech, communities and institutions. Or, take a computer. A multiplicity of switches, on and off, 0’s and 1’s, act in concert through layers of code to push light through an array of pixels that create the interactive, virtual space of the screen.


I began this body of work driven by an image that flickers in mind when I consider the notion that our world is built from basics, from the ground up. My sense that nature is arranged into levels must trace to the idea that the way big, complex things look depends on the way small, simple things behave. Dependence looks a bit like one thing sitting on top of another.


With that in mind, getting closer to understanding the world might look like zooming in, or tunneling down, until you hit a hard, physical core. “Closer to the metal”, the programmers’ term for coding languages least abstracted from the computer’s hardware, calls to mind a thin lip where symbolic commands nearly touch the bones of the machine. How, exactly, does a word nudge metal? I want to picture the puzzle of how weightless things–opinions, concepts, beliefs, images, speech–occupy matter, push it around, rest on top of it, and are simultaneously composed by it. Every time I see the world as an ordered pyramid, a staircase, an onion, it’s always undermined by conflicting horizons, punctured by holes, or made to glitter with dappled light.


I keep my ears tuned for metaphors that use the language of space, volume and weight to describe abstract relationships. I listen for these metaphors because they hold the potential for novel images, and that’s what I aim to make. I look closely at the fuzzy structure that floats in mind when I hear things like “physics is the foundation of science” (physics is a floor?), or “my view of things is coherent” (it sticks together, without gaps?), or “being a woman entails being a person” (a woman contains personhood, like a piece of property, folded up in a pocket?). These paintings begin by trying to focus a blurry arrangement of logical forms. The strangeness and novelty of the image inevitably enters when I fail to get clarity.


I can’t make paintings of these metaphors because once I sharpen the focus they fall apart. The paintings instead picture the meandering search for a clear view of flawed ideas. I embellish and bend the picture with all the texture, light, and gravity I feel in the vertigo of the realization that my most basic beliefs, the scaffolding of my thought, will not piece together." - Dana Lok



Dana Lok (b.1988, Berwyn, PA) received an MFA from Columbia University in 2015 and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2016.


Solo exhibitions of her work include Part and Parse at Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York (2022); One Second Per Second at PAGE, New York (2020); Words Without Skin at Clima, Milan (2019); Mind’s Mouth at Bianca D’Alessandro, Copenhagen (2018); Soft Fact at Clima, Milan (2017); and The Set of All Sets at Chewday’s, London (2016).


Group shows include The future perfect will have arrived, curated by Bridget Mullen, at Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles (2023); Le Biscuit à Soupe, at High Art, Arles, France (2022); Gravity, a proposal at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York (2022); Jahresgaben at Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany (2021); Regroup Show at Miguel Abreu Gallery (2021); Fifteen Painters at Andrew Kreps Gallery (2021); PAGE (NYC) at Petzel Gallery (2021); and In Place Of, curated by Leah Pires, at Miguel Abreu Gallery, (2016), all in New York.




01, 02, 03, 04. Closer to the Metal, Exhibition view at Clima, Milan

05. Dana Lok, Split, 2023 Oil on canvas, 26x29 in, 66x73,5 cm

06. Dana Lok, Inch-Bit Knit, 2023 Oil on canvas, 26x29 in, 66x73,5 cm

07. Dana Lok, Accidental Alphabet I, 2023 Oil on canvas, 26x29 in, 66x73,5 cm

08. Dana Lok, Accidental Alphabet II, 2023 Oil on canvas, 26x29 in, 66x73,5 cm

09. Dana Lok, Canopy, Cascade, 2023 Oil on canvas, 78x96 in, 198x245 cm


Photos: Flavio Pescatori

Courtesy: the artist and Clima, Milan

Portrait: Nina Choi


#MACFOCUS is the column of the Milano Art Community offering insights on the most interesting contemporary art galleries, foundations, and nonprofit spaces in Milan and on the work of their artists.




Per maggiori informazioni Clima, Milan



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