Affirmation Dungeon, 2007
This suite of works was first exhibited in Affirmation Dungeon at Gambia Castle, Auckland in 2007 – the year before Arps’ Walter’s Prize nominated exhibition Explaining Things.
At the time, the artist-run initiative Gambia Castle formed an important part of Auckland’s gallery scene for a generation of artists, and Affirmation Dungeon was a key moment for Arps.
The title of that exhibition went on to become the title of Arps first monograph Affirmation Dungeon, co-published by Clouds and Michael Lett in 2011. In this publication art critic Jon Bywater notes that “In Arps’ titles, ‘motivation’ and ‘affirmation’ are concepts signed by the Californian-style self-help movement and its pop psychology. The term ‘dungeon’ invokes sado-masochist playful discipline, a premises where one might be restrained and forcibly affirmed, by one’s own arrangement.”
“Arps’ work consistently asserts an alternative kind of seriousness to that evinced by permanent materials, high production values, big budgets or labour-intensiveness. Against these standard measures of commitment, he presents the formal successes of vigour and casualness, a lack of preciousness, effects that compete with the power of the appeals of the popular work they sometimes over paint.”
“The essence of Arps’ gesture lies in the continuity between the extensive deployment of readymade materials and the conventionally expressive gestures –indulgent, lazy, childish, un-effortful, not craft-intensive, sometimes appearing like defacements –in which a consistent tone is the un-laboured.”
Bywater explains that Arps’ “over-painting on commercial prints, expulsive, expressionist gestures in paint are applied to Photo-shopped commercial products. These include images made by other authors, but also evoke clearly defined genres, including some within, for example, science fiction, fantasy art, pornography and advertising, that also contribute to the plurality of conventions in play.”
Born 1976, Christchurch (NZ). Lives and works in Auckland (NZ)
Dan Arps’ installations, sculptures, and paintings fuse architecture, public space, and nomadic structures to expand and reflect upon modernist traditions of abstraction, alienation, and the everyday. His work explores and responds to the contemporary urban environment and its related subjectivities.
Arps gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture) from the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury, Christchurch in 2000. He received a Master of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland in 2006 followed by a Doctor of Fine Arts in 2014. In 2010 he was awarded Aotearoa New Zealand’s premier contemporary art award, the Walter’s Prize, for his exhibition Explaining Things by international judge Vicente Todolí. Arps has exhibited extensively in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia, as well as taking part in multiple international projects. Recent solo exhibitions include: Floral Maze, Michael Lett (2021); Disneyland Paris, Melbourne (2021) and The Hermetic Playa, Sydney Sydney, (2020). His work was included in When the dust settles, Artspace Aotearoa (2021); Alive Inside, Neon Parc, Melbourne (2021); Abject Failures, Hastings City Art Gallery (2018); Space Suit, Dunedin Public Art Gallery (2018); Necessary Distraction: A painting show, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2015); Local Knowledge, the Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt (2011) and the Sao Paolo Biennale (2004).
*All quotes taken from Jon Bywater, “Work-Life Balance: Recent Exhibitions by Dan Arps” in Reading Room: A Journal of Art and Culture. Issue 03 ART GOES ON, 2009.