The Patient Eye
by Jonathan VanDyke
When we speak of attention, we speak of paying and turning. To pay attention implies a transactional relationship wherein the attender receives something in return. To turn our attention towards something implies a physical movement, a condition of the body together with an object in space. The queer body has, historically, been conceived as mis-oriented, and for psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, who labelled homosexuals inverts, it was as if these bodies were upside down. As a gay man, I am aware that my body turns towards other male bodies in a way that is differently oriented than a normative body. The body turning “the wrong way” holds deep social and cultural connotations, as in the Biblical episode of Lot’s wife (Genesis 19). As the story goes,), who was said to have turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back at the destruction of the ancient city of Sodom...
The Artist Will See You Now: Jonathan VanDyke's Patient/s, Practice, and Cur(e)ation
Dr. Jonathan Frederick Walz
Dir. of Curatorial Affairs & Curator of American Art, The Columbus Museum
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the Irish-American diplomat Samantha Power originated the term upstander in 2002. In distinction to bystander— that is, a witness who does nothing—the terms means “A person who speaks or acts in support of an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied.” ...Like Alma Thomas, Jonathan VanDyke is an artist and an activist and an upstander. And like Alma Thomas, VanDyke enacts his deeply felt beliefs in subtle, sincere, and beautiful ways. In The Patient Eye he rejects a fatalistic passivity; instead he makes himself physically and politically vulnerable, literally taking a stand, while simultaneously standing on his principles and refusing to stand down. In The Patient Eye, the museum—what former Metropolitan Museum of Art director Philippe de Montebello has called “the memory of mankind”—and its processes and procedures are the artist’s topic of investigation and object of critique. Through the recontextualization of collection items and the reframing of visitor experience, VanDyke draws attention to invisible (forgotten, suppressed) power structures and their effects on the institution and the communities that it (ostensibly) serves....
Interview with Bradley Teal Ellis, David Rafael Botana, and Jonathan VanDyke
by J. Louise Makary
a journal of Movement Research
"Although his practice includes performance, video, and sculpture, Jonathan VanDyke is often labelled a painter. He works outward from the medium of painting to explore how personal relationships affect the form and creation of works of art. Mark-making is exected on canvases by two dancers, Bradley Teal Ellis and David Rafael Botana in an ongoing live performance, Cordoned Area, and in non-public studio sessions in which they make canvases that are later cut to pieces and sewn back together. Earlier this year, I sat in on a studio session with VanDyke and his dancers and then conducted interviews with the three of them..."
–J. Louise Makary
Jonathan VanDyke on Benny Nemer
"Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay described The Return to me at the opening of Coming After, a group exhibition at The Power Plant, Toronto, in which we both took part. The Return, a sound piece installed on the outside of the building, was both highly charged and ephemeral, a veritable shout in the dark bracketing a crowded and cacophonous opening party. Curated by Jon Davies, Coming After featured the work of queer-identified artists who were children and adolescents during the height of the AIDS epidemic, and central to its theme was the shadow presence of a generation of mentors/lovers/friends swallowed into the crisis and lingering like ghosts (an illustration of an 80’s-era, Pac Man-esque ghost appears on the cover of the exhibition catalogue). That I missed Ramsay’s installation as I hurried in from the cold December night felt like an echo of this ghosting..."
Caitlin Berrigan on Jonathan VanDyke
"VanDyke, like the Harlequin, is an artist between the worlds of labor and play as much as his work exists between painting and performance. It is in this gap where the instability of the Harlequin's geometry takes hold. The hidden dimension in VanDyke's paintings is not the third dimension of Renaissance perspective and representational illusions of solid space, but rather the fourth dimension of time. Through the labor of producing painting, VanDyke gives glimpses and material evidence of the concealed dimensions of performance, intimacy, and queer couplings..."
Paint, Gesture, Code: Thoughts on Jonathan VanDyke
by Dr. Allison Unruh
"In this re-configuring of the gestural traces of the performers’ physical engagements, he doubles the intertwining of their bodies with the visual patterns of warp and weft. The gestural marks are made discontinuous, estranged yet with elements of connections, signaled in pattern and color. While the patterns reference analogue sources, they nevertheless bring to mind the pixellation of digital imagery, and the re- mixing and fluidity of visual streams that are omnipresent elements of contemporary culture. In tension with the rationalizing geometric order, a sense of the body and physical sensuality prevails in these paintings, an element further enhanced by VanDyke’s treatment of the backs of the canvas, where the pieces of carefully stitched canvases are exposed, suggesting a vulnerability that alludes to the body..."
Angelina Gualdoni on Jonathan VanDyke; Jonathan VanDyke on Paul Mpagi Sepuya
Just Six Degrees
"Jonathan's got this incredibly hybridity to his work: textiles and paintings come out of performances, performances are informed by fashion and sports, paintings and photographs are displayed in the round as sculpture and set - it's a similar attitude to Delaunay, as well as Dona Nelson, and even some Brazilian artists like Helio Oiticia and Lygia Clark. If all that isn't enough, his work is drop dead gorgeous, tightly stretched, bodily, lusty, and filled with some kind of catharsis, all of which I've been thinking about a lot lately too..." Angelina Gualdoni
"We are not in the trash heap of libidinal desire that we associate with Francis Bacon's workspace. [In Sepuya's new work] fragments of intimate photos (imaging empty beds, nude limbs and torsos, flowers seen at close range as if to be smelled) float through this space. They do not drift randomly like thought bubbles, but stick to the grid, like "windows" on a computer screen. While superimposed on top of the pictorial space, these pictures offer psychological depth. Their suggestive, desire-rich fragments linger in the empty air, like sensation after sex or the keen insight released after an argument..." JVD
The Long Glance
by Jonathan VanDyke
Switch On, The Journal of The Power Plant
"On June 3rd I turned my gaze away from Jackson Pollock’s 1952 painting Convergence after staring at it for forty hours. To enact The Long Glance, as I had titled my performance, I stood silently in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, eight hours a day for five days. I wanted to approach the painting in peak condition, and trained to stand at length with just incremental movement. By acting as a fixed counterpoint to an “action” painting, I intended, through my immobile body, to reorient the museum’s abstract expressionist galleries..."