Gruin Gallery opens the first group exhibition of Dana James and Jo Hummel

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Gruin Gallery opens the first group exhibition of Dana James and Jo Hummel
Jo Hummel's work is characterized by a painted and paper collaged surface on which she employs spontaneous variations of space, color and form.



SANTA MONICA, CA.- Gruin Gallery is pleased to present the first group exhibition of Dana James and Jo Hummel, ‘Love Letter’.

Jo Hummel's work is characterized by a painted and paper collaged surface on which she employs spontaneous variations of space, color and form.

Although her painting collages are physically engaged and materially driven the context is purposefully anthropological. Hummel’s works are informed by both free will and deterministic formal human behavior.

Hummel runs experiments where the process helps determine the outcome while providing an arena for improvisation, a place where rational procedures can co-exist alongside intuition. In doing this she explores the unpredictable nature of intuition and spontaneity. Her practice functions as a simulation of decision making experiences which enable us to grasp sensations such as anxiety or serenity. It is via these conflicting emotional states of comfort, satisfaction, anxiousness, and repulsion that Hummel is able to tap into our ubiquitously felt state of human uncertainty. The social structures we all exist in guide and interfere with how we feel and what we choose to do on a daily basis. Our social class, religion, gender and ethnicity all play a part in what we deem pleasant or unpleasant.




The nature of collage is that throughout its creation a work is in constant flux. The artist must negotiate the canvas by rearranging, choosing and adjusting, often over long periods and having explored hundreds, even thousands of the infinite possible outcomes. In this way the creative process itself is as significant as the final outcome.

Dana James’ striking paintings coalesce bright, pastel palettes with dirty, recycled canvas in order to create worlds marked by contradiction. James welcomes the idea of objective “beauty” in her work, but she is most interested in offsetting it. This process is an exploration of the duality of femininity, as well as the duality of man-made artifice within the natural world. There is a shifting light in each piece, a literal “glow” created by iridescent pigment. It calls upon the glinting of the ocean, the magic felt in the vastness of nature as a child, and the flashing of color just before drifting into sleep. The paintings are a fantasia of memories in all of their glory, visually enchanting but shrouded with smoke and ghosts. Large fields of smooth color are offset by a flurry of mark making. These marks are akin to scars on otherwise flawless skin, diaphanous but permanent, they are heavy with history. Within these marks, traces of iridescence flicker across the surface like a dragonfly’s moonlit wing; coined as the universal symbol of change, the dragonfly is a form that lives inside the work repeatedly, most often deconstructed into triangles that denote direction within the painting’s moving composition.

Within the amorphous pools of color that largely define the landscape of each piece, strictly ruled lines provide control and structure, while ironically emphasizing the painting’s autonomy through bleeds and off-kilter strokes. The vocabulary of her chosen materials are calculated: bright hues and dark explosive pigments subsumed in layers of muted wax captures a transient moment that falls somewhere between past and present. Inside pieces that perpetuate into multi-paneled constructions, time disappears. There is no beginning or end to the composition and the viewer is left to speculate only the dissonance between the edges. The paintings act as a panorama of linear time; they serve as a reminder that we are small and predictable creatures, incessantly creating and shedding beautiful accounts of the earth and its elements. Upon completion, they are visual diaries that speak to contradiction, a latency caromed by intermittent activity.

Dana James is a painter and New York native, based in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Since graduating from the School of Visual Arts in 2008, her work has been exhibited extensively and can be found in private and public collections around the world. James is represented by Hollis Taggart Contemporary in New York City, as well as Bode Projects in Berlin, Germany. Most recent solo exhibitions include Something I Meant to Say (2021, NY) and Otherwise All Was Silent (2020, Berlin). James was featured as one of the "Top 20 Artists Shaping the New Decade" by Daily Collector in 2020, in which her work was described as “simultaneously dark and feminine, creating worlds marked by duality.”

James’ 2019 two-person show, The Thread at M.David & Co. Gallery was chosen as a must-see exhibition by New York Magazine, and her 2017 solo show, Sometimes Seen Dreams, at the Lodge Gallery was featured in the Art Critical Review Panel. She has been featured in publications such as Art Forum, Two Coats of Paint, ArtSpace, LE MILE, and Hyperallergic.

Jo Hummel lives and works in the Isle of Wight. Hummel graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2006. Her recent exhibitions include: Rock, Paper, Scissors at Fold Gallery (2021, London), Automatic at Victor Lope Gallery (2021, Barcelona), Small is beautiful, Flowers Gallery (2021, London), Studio: Response 01, Saatchi Gallery (2021, London), Simulation Paintings, After Nyne Gallery (2021, London), Transformer I & II, And Gallery (2019, Edinburgh) and Nordic Art Agency Malmo (2019, Sweden), Deep End Echo, Sid Motion Gallery, (2018, London) and the Jerwood Drawing Prize, Jerwood Space, (2012, London). Major collections include the Christian Dior Collection Paris.










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