Dan Van Clapp





Back to Press

March 11, 2010
Mad Science
"New Works of a Perplexing Nature" twists up technology
by Stacy Davies

Painter and assemblage artist Dan Van Clapp has an acute sense of irony – especially when it comes to, as he puts it, exposing "the hypocrisy in institutions designed to protect us from ourselves [such as] the church, the military [and] the government."

In his Defense Mechanisms, a series of sculptures, for example, he built weapons of war using found objects and children's toys. In his Taco series – a collection of acrylic paintings – he gives us images of weather-eroded signs stranded out in a god forsaken desert; one from a now not-so-welcoming motel, and the other from a Swiss-cheesed-by-bullets taco stand. In another image (one that's also included in his new show) we see the front end of a military plane that was ripped off and now lays atop a desert dune; on the nose, the word "tacos" and an arrow pointing the way are spray painted, turning a once-mighty machine of destruction into a simple advertising tool for the simplest of foods.

In his latest collection, "New Works of a Perplexing Nature," Van Clapp ventures off into the world of science, creating Frankenstonian machines of glowing blubs and glass spheres sprouting out of metal tubing, riveted to engine pieces, wires, and gauges – and even a stenographer's typewriter. One has a large, evil-looking insect trapped atop in an experimental chamber, another stretches a human face out of proportion in what might be a very unpleasant medieval plastic surgery procedure. One of the best things about these half dozen intriguing machines (which also include a "skyvac" spy plane made from an Electrolux vacuum and another venture into Dark Ages therapy – a human skull caught in a vise, peg boring into the temple) is that each creation seems as if it could be switched on and actually work. That's not always the case with machine assemblage art.

Van Clapp's acrylic paintings, which hang arbitrarily between the metal monsters, are also noteworthy: an ancient space shuttle marooned on a faraway world or asteroid, and a mixed media of plane portal and painted desert landing strip that takes you inside the ride. The entire show, in fact, is an adventure for the imagination, jetting you off into realms that are indeed perplexing, and yet familiar. And they're certainly trips worth taking.