Art Review

Nathan Danilczuk
The Texture Of Light And Dark
By Chris Brunelle

The experience of viewing any of Nathan Danilczuk’s work is powerful and enigmatic.  The visuals communicate with you in a language all their own.  Within the world of each painting, there is an internal intuitive logic to the abstraction.  Like strong emotions, Danilczuk’s paintings vividly elicit powerful sensations.  Texture and light are focal elements throughout his work, which are often explored in series form.  Danilczuk’s works are titled by code rather than word or phrase.  He seems to be cataloging his journey through light, texture, and paint with each series being a meditation.   His reluctance to lead the viewer with titles combines with his strong visual technique to never let you leave the world of the painting to explore your own internal experience.   He keeps the experience present and simultaneous with viewing.
His “Recent Works” incorporate primarily black and white tones through enamel on panel.  Unlike his other paintings, there is a simulated texture to these works that have a hologram meets X-ray quality.  The image reminds of a dense forest of birch trees lit by moonlight or piles of limb bones.  In actuality, Danilczuk is not trying to recreate either of these realities but takes the darkness of these subjects and wraps a world of intrigue around those tones through his use of lighting and simulated texture.  Although dark and mysterious, these images contain a tranquility and focus that is contemplative.  In a sense, the repetition of similar imagery suggests different angles or perspectives from the same scene.  Are these scene settings from an imaginary film where the viewers are the characters or possibly even the directors?  One of the greatest qualities of viewing Danilczuk’s work is that a myriad number of possibilities and thoughts can enter your perception in reaction to his work and he creates a world of interesting possibility that allows any outcome to be possible.  He’s guiding you towards conclusions but allows you to choose what those are.
The later half of the “Recent Works” series transitions from panel to paper as the canvas, and expands the enamel media to include chalk, charcoal, and graphite.  In context of this series, these final five pieces appear to be negatives and positives from extreme close-up photographs of the world in the previous paintings.  Each of these “negatives” appear to be scratched on the upper and lower thirds of the frame with a chaotic sound-wave-like fencing.  Is there an audio distortion that emerges as we look closer into this world?  When transitioning from the positive image of  “iii06b” to the seemingly corresponding negative of “iii06c”, the shift moves from ghostly to gloomy.   These closing images of the series indicate a more dour experience in the world of these images.  Danilczuk is exploring varying points of view within the darkness see what characteristics emerge.
Another particularly compelling series from Nathan Danilczuk is his “Works On Panel.”  “vii03a” creates a stone-like texture and color scheme where scratches attack the darker tones in the panel.   The effect conjures a feeling of being trapped and trying to get out.  The stone texture is particularly intriguing as he’s wielding much structurally weaker materials to create a surface that so convincingly conveys such strength.  The scrawls on this overpowering surface are dwarfed within the callus landscape.  “v02a” merges four color-quadrants.  A robust rusty red in the left quadrant crosses black and white center quadrants towards the earth toned grey and light-brown right quadrant.  The swirling mix of these distinct color areas conjures a stormy center.  The colors are colliding and changing the landscape of what they come in contact with.  Similarly, there are scrawls covering the surface of the entire panel.   In this case, the effect adds another dimension of texture to the already rugged surface.  More than any other artist with the possible exception of Van Gogh, I am compelled to reach out and run my hands along the surface of the painting.  It is a child-like experience of discovery that I’m transported to because this world before me is so new.  I am compelled to learn about it through visual and physical exploration.  Danilczuk remarkably creates such unique visual experiences through his painting the feel like nothing you’ve experienced before.
Danilczuk commands texture and lighting in his work so deftly that his abstractions never beg logical justification.   The classic pop-culture criticism of modern art where the average Joe compares the work of Picasso to the finger paints of his toddler basically saying, “I can do that,” is so clearly rebutted upon viewing any of Nathan Danilczuk’s work.  You’re more likely thinking, “How did he do that?”  The mastery of form Danilczuk holds, leads you into his mysterious and sometimes strange world with confidence and allows open interpretation to all who enter.  I encourage you to view the series discussed here and more at


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