Hardcore and moshpits are very unusual subjects for a painter, photographers excel at taking pictures of them but paintings like the one above are unheard of. Actually you could totally think it is a photograph because I actually did it was a picture at first, but it is in fact an oil painting executed by Dan Witz, in the most hyper-realistic style. Witz is an artist known for his trompe-l’oeil street work but also for his studio work, and his latest exhibit focuses on New York Hardcore, with a big emphasis on mosh pits! And you can tell this reflects a personal experience as he explained:
‘When my brief career as a musician was waning to a close, I knew I’d really miss the intensity, but I discovered in museum wanderings—especially with the epic baroque multi-figure pieces—that painting actually had plenty of potential for the adrenalin and animal frenzy that I craved. The action (within them) can be dizzying, sometimes it even manages to achieve an almost punk-rock pitch of chaos and catharsis.’
Witz was in bands in the early 80s and I bet he became a street artist because he was missing this adrenaline rush. This is what he seems to say when he explained why he painted all these mosh pits: ‘After photographing and being tossed around in mosh pits…when I’d nail someone in full barbaric yawp, it was as satisfying as performing.’
But he is certainly immensely talented and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the street art movement. Since, his work has been shown in galleries around the world, and some of his work can even ben seen in Banksy’s film ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’.
You can look at all these fantastic renditions on his website, and I thought that the next painting was more realistic than the previous one! You can almost smell the sweat and heat coming out of these mountains of human flesh. It reminds me some of Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch’s work, but since Dan Witz says he observed and studied the old master painters in European museums when he was in punk bands, it is not surprising that some of this resurfaces! He probably studied the light after Vermeer… Of course it becomes even weirder when dogs get involved!
You can see Dan Witz’ s ‘NY Hardcore’ solo exhibition till May 3rd at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, 529 West 20th Street, in New York.
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