Eating Atom Bombs , the new Dana Schutz exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art Transformer Station features a series of paintings created mostly in the past year and shows that rather than being cowed by the protests which greeted her work on Emmett Till at the Whitney Biennal she has stayed the course in conflating the political with her practice. I commend her courage and applaud her efforts to encourage us not to look away in these challenging times.
Washington is mired in gridlock and grime. “Many of the paintings depict dystopic scenes of conflict and shame,” Schutz says. “Subjects conceal and reveal themselves, trying to hold themselves—and the picture—together.”
Schutz is a semi-Clevelander, she attended art school there and clearly feels a loyalty as probably any museum in the country would have happily housed this exhibition. I have always loved her work, now more than ever that she is wearing her heart on her canvas. The black and white images hold as much anguish and emotion as the brilliantly colored ones, and becoming a mother has clearly made her fear for the future of our planet. Schutz has also been channeling Picasso, a self portrait and some heads are riffs on cubism and portraiture that felt very familiar and yet totally fresh.
I’m sorry the work isn’t coming to New York or LA, but truth be told, in these times, it’s almost better for them to be seen in Ohio where voters swing back and forth between reason and folly.