The paintings in “Deep Water Prairie” are part of an ongoing meditation on John Dilg’s relationship to the land and its ability to conjure vivid, visual memories. They are also codified summaries of locality and place. In terms of the fragility we now know the contemporary land possesses, his concern acts to foster the views of regret and the sense of latent danger that often occur in his paintings.
One’s memory of the land is a reservoir of abstraction; it functions as a personal framework in service to both survival and the kind of advantageous “beauty” found in natural encounters.
The paintings are oil on canvas – cotton canvas, not linen, because the small imperfections in the cotton weave can be mined for an added physical presence. The relatively small scale of the works relates to a sense that the drawing of the image has a size limit for its effectiveness in meaning. The smaller scale fosters intimacy and a closeness that tends to project a sense of quiet.
The process of making is similar to that of a lithograph in the way that a drawing is made and the colors are “attached” to the drawing through subsequent applications and layering. The drawing becomes a “key” and the color is developed by committing to a narrow band on the spectrum that advances the subject of the painting, often focusing on the edge where a color can be seen, simultaneously, as blue or green. The relationship between what is abstract and what can be named is also fluid.
John Dilg received a B.F.A. in Painting and Filmmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design. He is the recipient of a Fulbright Grant to India, a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, and three Residency Fellowships at the Yaddo Foundation. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include Taymour Grahne Gallery, NY, 2016; Jeff Bailey Gallery, Hudson, NY, (2-P), 2014; Steven Zevitas Gallery, Boston, 2013-14; Regina Rex, Queens, NY, (2-P), 2013, Luise Ross Gallery, NY, 2000-2011; Schmidt Contemporary Art, St. Louis, 2004 and 2008; and Rhodes College, Memphis, 2012. Group exhibitions include Spring Break, NY, 2017; Ortega y Gasset Projects, Brooklyn, NY, 2016; Whitespace Gallery, Atlanta, 2015; Planthouse, NY, 2013; Sikkema Jenkins & Co., NY, 2012; Lesley Heller Workspace, NY, 2011; Edward Thorp Gallery, NY, 2010; and Wake Forest University, 2007.
Dilg has been a visiting artist at more than 40 institutions, including Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Sarah Lawrence College, The University of Chicago and Stanford University. His work is in the collections of the Arkansas Art Center, the Figge Museum of Art, Illinois State University, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and several other public institutions. Reviews include Art in America, New York Times, Hyperallergic, Huffington Post, Boston Globe, and New Art Examiner.