Press Release
10 May 2007
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Michael Werner Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings by American artist Don Van Vliet (b. 1941, Glendale, CA).

Don Van Vliet is a legendary figure in both music and the visual arts. Growing up in Glendale, California, Don Van Vliet gained notoriety as a child prodigy who sculpted life-like animal forms out of clay. He would continue to draw, paint and sculpt throughout his life, but in the early 1960s music became his main passion. Performing under the stage name Captain Beefheart, together with his Magic Band Don Van Vliet produced a number of highly unconventional blues- and rock-inspired albums, ultimately securing a place in music history as one of the most original recording artists of his day. After two decades in the spotlight as an avant-garde rock composer and performer, Don Van Vliet turned his back on the music industry and since the early 1980s has devoted his entire efforts to painting.

Fusing naturalistic imagery with lush, painterly passages of vivid abstraction, the paintings of Don Van Vliet defy simple categorization. As his fellow artist and long-time admirer A.R. Penck once observed: Deep from the sphere of subconsciousness appear images of the demonic animality of man. They oscillate between classic seriousness and a detached ironic view of the ego's dependence upon instincts. The works employ broad gestures, bold and uncommon colors and an imaginative subjectivity reminiscent of mid-century New York School abstract painting and the CoBrA group of artists. Don Van Vliet injects those legacies with his own unique vision, a kind of homespun surrealism born of the lore of the American desert and the artist's own inspired visions, alternately whimsical and nightmarish.

Since 1985 Don Van Vliet's work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States and Europe, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Bielefelder Kunstverein, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York. He currently lives and works in northern California.

In cooperation with Michael Werner, Anton Kern Gallery will present a complimentary exhibition of Don Van Vliet's paintings. This double exhibition offers a truly unique opportunity to view a selection of Don Van Vliet's work of the past 20 years. A full-color catalogue is available, featuring the complete works from both exhibitions together with texts by the artist and Polly Jean Harvey.

The exhibition is on view 31 May through 29 June 2007. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm. Please contact the gallery for more information.