In Dana Lok’s intricate figurative paintings, visual transformations coupled with unexpected and often counter-intuitive vantage points tease at the seams of how signs and representations express meaning. Each distinct body of work engages a range of specific ideas or problems as they undergo a translation from language to visualization, with the paintings recording all the distortions, spontaneous slippages, and sleight-of-hand substitutions at play to bridge the gulf between thought and image. Lok’s paintings stage a heightened and at times surreal drama of compositional space in which different modes of knowledge and meaning-making are both props and actor, theater set and subject. Threading delicate tensions between signifiers, images in Lok’s work gesture to their absent opposites, hidden in the shadows or just out of frame. Like a magician’s trick, optical cues abound, distracting the viewer while subtly pointing to the fact that there is always more going on than meets the eye.
Lok first emerged as an abstract painter before turning to figuration and developing her distinctive style in which enigmatic questions addressing the passage of time or the act of seeing, for instance, are afforded imaginative, incisive answers. Complex and morphing systems of insight are made visible while never wholly transparent. These half-offered, half-withheld solutions hold the viewer’s gaze and mind in a state of suspension, a testimony to her deep involvement with the complexities of the medium of painting.
Dana Lok (b. 1988, Berwyn, PA) received an MFA from Columbia University in 2015 and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2016. Solo exhibitions of her work include One Second Per Second at PAGE, New York (2020); Words Without Skin at Clima, Milan (2019); Mind’s Mouth at Bianca D’Allessandro, Copenhagen (2018); Soft Fact at Clima, Milan (2017); and The Set of All Sets at Chewday’s, London (2016). Group shows include Le Biscuit à Soupe, at High Art, Arles, France (2022); Gravity, a proposal at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York (2022);Jahresgaben at Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany (2021); Regroup Show at Miguel Abreu Gallery (2021); Fifteen Painters at Andrew Kreps Gallery (2021); PAGE (NYC) at Petzel Gallery (2021); and In Place Of, curated by Leah Pires, at Miguel Abreu Gallery, (2016), all in New York.
Lok’s recent solo exhibition Closer to the Metal at Clima, Milan was on view through July 29, 2023. Her work was also included in the 2023 group exhibition X PINK 101 at X Museum, Beijing.