Dan Attoe makes a drawing a day. And when I say a drawing, I mean a drawing that comprises many detailed parts, creating an explosive, Mark Lombardi–style map. “For seven years I completed a painting every weekday,” the Portland, Oregon–based artist writes in his statement. “Now I do daily drawings.”
“I keep this schedule… out of a a desire to push myself and see what comes next. And for anthropological purposes: I have an interest in maintaining a record of my intellectual and artistic development.”
Like a sketchbook, Attoe’s drawings serve as a play-place to make images to which he doesn’t need to commit, and they also work as a way of figuring out relationships among the 34-year-old’s incredibly varied interests. The images connect romantically sullen rural landscapes and slices of middle-class America to metal bands, hermaphrodite skeletons, and moonscapes. Brief annotations scattered throughout the drawings veer from the enigmatic — “some kind of a dark mountain,” “I have wasted time and missed opportunities” — to typical Attoe-style proclamations like “do something stupid” and “that bitch is a piece of shit.” (One of his new paintings, a harmless looking aerial of people frolicking in the waves, bears the satirical title “Dumbfucks at the beach”; an older work is called “Bar Skank.”)
The format mirrors that of his accretion paintings, which depict a complete landscape with tiny looser paintings scattered within. Though the process is different — oil painting versus the swiftness of graphite — both reflect his way of thinking, his desire to escape the confines of the single image. ”In order to maintain vitality my process has to retain a flexibility,” he writes. “I don’t hold myself to any one line of thought, a style, or subject matter. At the same time … there are certain themes I return to with frequency: wilderness landscapes, sex, and violence have proven to be limitless in their value to me.”
Because of his style and his confident framing, each small piece of the larger drawing feels complete. Even the looser, unframed sketches — which frequently end up being the first incarnations of his neon works, fluorescent bar signs depicting blue-collar imagery — have a certain finished quality.
You can see more of Attoe’s daily drawings in the upcoming catalogue “I Made Most Of This Shit Up,” to be published in December by Peres Projects gallery. His solo show “I’m Done Worryin’ About Shit.” is on view at Peres Projects in Los Angeles through November 15.