You Don’t Know Dale Goode
The perception of value has been at the heart of Dale Goode’s artistic practice in recent years. That has been manifest in sculptural works made of scavenged material, often covered in fabric, spray painted metallic gold. It was an interesting point to make during the FRONT Triennial in 2018, when he presented a cube of compacted aluminum cans, covered in gold spray paint as if to make it precious—the irony, of course, being that scrap aluminum is sold as a valuable commodity. In any city you can find people pushing shopping carts full of found aluminum cans, headed for the scrap yard to be turned into money.
What he has on view now in Studio 215 at 78th Street Studios, in a pop-up exhibit presented by HEDGE Gallery, is completely different. For one thing, this is wall art—paintings and prints on paper and canvas. More importantly, the aesthetic and conceptual direction is completely different. The exhibit draws on several veins of the artist’s output of the last 20 years, in directions varied enough that you might not guess they came from the same person.
HEDGE curator Hilary Gent visited Goode’s studio to look through his work and found at least four distinct styles: There’s a series of large abstract paintings, most of which have strong horizontal lines, evoking landscape, at least on first glance. Then there’s a series of large figurative works, each of which is focused on the outline of human form. There are several smaller paintings, mostly abstract, but some loosely evoking scenes—a human figure in a doorway, for example. Finally, there are a couple of collagraph prints made during a residency at Zygote Press. Each of these veins seems completely distinct.
Several large figure drawings, with their life-sized outlines of the human form, are evocative of crime scenes, where the location of the victim’s body is marked in tape. The forms are set against scrawled lines that show lots of conflict and energy—a kind of aggressive, agitated motion that covers a lot of ground. There’s emotion in these. And the titles lead toward a dark place, where love seems to always go wrong: Domestic Violence Isn’t Pretty is the title of a drawing wherein the person has a square-ish pink box framing the area of their genitalia. Another, with the form seeming to sleep on its side, is called Never Loved Another’s Lover. Nearby is Love Gone Astray—the figure’s hands reaching skyward.
It would be easy to read the large abstractions as landscapes: In a piece called Flly Ghirl, a strong horizontal line marked with streaks of blue might easily read as a city viewed from across a bay, the lights and sky reflected on the water. In another painting, without its title, you might see pure abstraction, or perhaps a landscape. Then reading the title—Love Denied—might lead you to think you are looking at a bed in the darkness. But in an exchange of emailed questions, Goode says that is not the case.
The current that seems to run across these different directions of Goode’s work is the titles, which enigmatically hint at stories of love, unrequited, lost, or gone wrong, as above, but also at character types and the relationships they imply. As Goode relayed in an email: “The,’SKANK!,’ The ‘SKEEZA!,’ The BOPPER!,’ ‘The HOTTIE!’ They are all sisters and ‘SOUL-MATES!!!!!!!’ in the game of life and love and marriage. They are truly, ‘PREDATORS!!!!!!!’ They try and or get what they can as often and fast as they can and then they drop or dump a brother.”
When looking at these, then, it seems appropriate to wonder how paint works as muse, how the struggle of forms, marks, and brush strokes plays with whatever is implied in each title, and further what might be implied. The outlined human figures in that series: do they represent dead bodies? And that horizontal form in the dark painting called Love Denied: if not a bed, what is it, and how does it relate to the title? There is darkness and light in Goode’s color palate, and agitation and peace in his brush strokes. If you think you are familiar with Dale Goode, this exhibit will challenge that assumption.
Dale Goode: Painting and Printmaking is on view in 78th Street Studios Studio 215 February 19 through May 28, 2021. Goode’s work is also on view in SPACES Members Show. His work was recently archived in the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.