Studio Visit: Daniel DeLuna

Daniel is a multimedia artist based out of New York. His work can be seen in PLEAT's April 2015 exhibition "Sequential" and

Where do you draw your inspiration from? 
All aspects of visual culture. I’m interested in everything from the history of abstraction, to Assyrian reliefs to Modernist poster designs. I frequently reference images from art history and recently have done paintings inspired by work from a variety of artists as diverse as Andrea Del Sarto and Franz Kline. I find it interesting to riff on an existing compositional structure but the subject matter of the originals have nothing to do with my work. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about Japanese woodcuts. I respond to the play between the graphic impact of the imagery and the delicacy of the line work and how texture of the wood holds and prints the color to add a subtle warmth to the surface. The duality of the fast versus slow read is important to my own work. 

You work with a variety of different media. In your experience, what medium is the most rewarding to work with?  
The abstract visual language employed in the various media links all the work together but the core of the work is my relationship with painting. Actually, I call the video pieces I produce “motion paintings” since they do not have a traditional narrative story arc nor do they incorporate sound. They are loops that have no beginning or end and it is my hope that the lack of narrative heightens the visual experience. I want the viewers to bathe in the color and forms in the work so they usually look best in a darkened gallery space projected on a wall or on a large HD monitor. The computer is a central tool in the development of all the work, but I view it as just that, a tool, in the same way that a brush is a tool. I feel a deep connection to the history of painting and I want to engage with and add to that tradition. The various mediums are so connected in my mind that I really don’t view them separately but if I was forced to choose, my choice would be paint on canvas. 

What is the most important conceptual current running through your work? 
The experience of listening to music is a huge influence on how I think about making work. I look at the compositional structure of a painting like a musical score that I can use to improvise within. The initial impact of the forms is followed by what I hope is a more sustained experience that requires an extended period of time to reveal the nuance of the surface brushwork and paint manipulation. The experience of the work is very much imbued with a sense of time, the repetitive lines as well as the fractured forms reinforce movement across the surface of the painting, and the layering evokes time in depth. While the Internet is an amazing tool for accessing information I do feel that as with music it has de-based the experience of looking at visual art. Consequently, one of my primary aims is to encourage a slow read of an image. A friend has playfully described me as a Luddite given my interest in traditional art forms as well as my hobby of collecting vinyl records. A record simply sounds better than a mp3 and the experience of viewing a painting in person where you can experience it as an object in the real world can never be replaced by even the highest definition digital display.  

How do you determine that a piece is finished? 
Slowly I am realizing that the work fares far better when I have a clear plan established at the outset. 95% of the work is just an extremely laborious process of taping, painting, re-taping and painting. Each shape gets masked off at least three or four times depending on the number of layers. Deter-mining when the work is complete is intuitive and sometimes I know immediately. Most of the time I have to look for while, sometimes months, to figure it out. One of the difficulties being that I aim for the work to be challenging and unexpected and as a result it usually has an intentional rawness that I have to live with for a while to determine whether the experience is right.