DANIEL TURNER STUDIO VISITDaniel Turner
Daniel Turner’s work is dirty. The product (or by-product) of gasoline, soot, and roofing tar. Perhaps it is kismet that his New York studio (he has another in rural Virginia) is located in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, not far from where ‘The Greenpoint Oil Release’ — a kind of oil spill in slow motion, and one of the largest in history — was first spotted in 1978 by a helicopter pilot. Vapor readings from parts of the area still indicate traces of the by-product benzene. Appropriately, a series of works in which the artist traps coal-based tar between sheets of plastic retain a faint petroleum smell after they are removed from his studio. This distinct smell underscores the strange relationship between art and heavy industry. One only has to look toVenice Beach in the 1960’s, where cheap artists studios and oil wells once made strange bedfellows, to see that this is not a local phenomenon. It becomes tempting to hypothesize that LA’s finish fetish genre (ultimately preoccupied with rendering the surface of a gas guzzling hot rod in minimal form) may in some small way be the subliminal manifestation of long days spent in studios filled with local fracking fumes.
More recently Turner has focused on a series of on-site scuffed walls. Inspired by his time as a security guard at the New Museum — where leaning was forbidden — the wall rubbing pieces are made with steel wool, and initially approximate the look of a wall marked by encounters with jackets, jeans and shoes. It is only when seen in the context of his other, more fossil-fuelled works, that they begin to take on the look of a wall tarnished by soot—a kind of contemporary sfumato painting. Versions in his studio, at West Street Gallery and Pianissimo Gallery in Milan resonate somewhere between the deconstruction of this Renaissance smoke effect and the tallow-soot damaged wall of a painter’s studio (pre-electricity of course). Turner’s use of materials as ‘by-products’ (coal tar, smoke, scuffing) reminds us that all art is a kind of mark, or marker, or A facsimile of that most fatal of art forms, time.