Dan Colen Has Good Karma

On the occasion of his show at Karma, the bookstore and exhibition space in the West Village, Dan Colen speaks boldly about trash and treasure as revealing “undeniable truths.” He calls the objects therein “things that can exist no other way than the way they’ve developed.”

“Blowin’ in the Wind,” named for the Bob Dylan song, consists of about 40 paint-splattered sculptures, items picked up from the floor of the painter’s studio. A wheel and an umbrella are worn; a rag soiled; a sock caked in paint becomes somehow alive. Colen says, “I try very hard to handle things equally: ideas, materials, and images.”  

Colen started noticing objects in his studio accomplishing some of the ambitions of the large abstract paintings he’s best known for. “I saw something powerful in these objects and I started to believe in them as artworks,” he says.

Karma is run by designer and publisher Brendan Dugan. Colen says, “I consider him a collaborator—he’s helped me turn small ideas into major works of art.” The name Karma came from a painting they made in collaboration. In 2006, Dugan helped the artist create the notorious ad for “No Me” at Peres Projects Berlin, featuring Colen with his pants around his ankles and a Jewish prayer shawl draped over his erection.

Now that’s karma.

“Blowin’ in the Wind” opens tonight, 6–8 PM.