Dan Witz Goes Hardcore in NYC with Mosh Pit Collection

“After photographing in the mosh pits for awhile I began to get familiar with patterns in the music. Eventually it got to the point where I could sense the moment coming when things would really cut loose and go berserk,” says painter Dan Witz about his process and method for catching the moment when the roiling mass of hardcore music fans hit the perfect state of frenzy.

“NY Hardcore Paintings”, opening this past Saturday night and on view currently at The Jonathan Levine gallery in Chelsea, presents Witz with his new body of convulsing bodies and to say they are a revelation is only part of the story. When we saw his first mosh pit paintings a few years ago we were struck by the raw thrilling chaotic energy and calculated abandon in them – and reminded of many such nights in the 80s and 90s in lower Manhattan when we also joined in the fray.

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Dan Witz “NY Hardcore” Jonathan LeVine Gallery (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

With this many pieces displayed at once you begin to see mosh pits more as a cultural phenomenon, sociological study, and expression of the cognitive polarity produced when marginalized subculture creates communal gatherings. Disregarding Witz’s masterful command of oil and light for moment, it may occur to you that this cathartic explosion is not terrorful, but a volunteer community jam and permission-based S&M soiree with basically total strangers.

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Dan Witz “NY Hardcore” Jonathan LeVine Gallery (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The mosh pit as derived from earliest punk rock shows, while stylistically posed as one of utter chaos, has just as many bylaws and conventions as traditional dance and extreme sport – and is usually well contained so that non participants can enjoy it from the sidelines. Yes, there is the occasional poked eye and heavy bruise, but it’s only the rube or provocateur or boneheaded jock who tramples the line and ruins it for the rest. Otherwise, it can be a communal, euphoric expression of collective rage, measured aggression, and celebratory dissatisfaction where everyone experiences a sense of relief, and release.

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Dan Witz “NY Hardcore” Jonathan LeVine Gallery (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

As with his street work, Witz is hiding in plain sight, and the myriad social-psychological undertones are the most relevant, as well as the ones they trigger in a viewer. One is remiss to not point out that the majority of participants here are of caucasion descent, and while that may be merely a trapping of the culture depicted, one may wonder what would be triggered in viewers if the majority of participants in these celebratory rage-fests were of another background.

Don’t be surprised by the appearance of a guest star in the silently boisterous “Hardcore” compositions here contained by canvasses and frames – and take note of the passages, outstretched limbs, points of impact, gestures that point more to the supportive than the adversarial.

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Dan Witz “NY Hardcore” Jonathan LeVine Gallery (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Witz “NY Hardcore” Jonathan LeVine Gallery (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Witz “NY Hardcore” Jonathan LeVine Gallery. Detail. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Oh, that was a close one! Dan Witz “NY Hardcore” Jonathan LeVine Gallery (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Dan Witz “NY Hardcore” is currently on view at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery in Manhattan. Click HERE for details.

 

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