Dylan Strzynski is a Michigan artist whose mixed media work combines drawing, painting and influence from his background in printmaking. He is inspired by the woody marine landscape of the north where he grew up and the area surrounding his home in rural western Washtenaw County. Focusing on landscape and vernacular architecture, his work addresses concerns about the environment and poverty by telling stories characterized by mystery and subtle humor.
A Brief Statement
Producing artwork, image making in particular is a continuum. Ideas reoccur; images repeat, transform, take on new meaning and develop in unexpected ways. Sometimes older ideas wait for the next discovery that points to a new project.
I tend to see myself as more a drawer than a painter and therefore, even when working in tightly rendered modes, as a sort of cartoon expressionist. Matching media and content is important. Energy is the ultimate concern and I try to work in ways that encourage spontaneity and deliberate mark making. Many of my pieces take on the raw appearance of the outsider. Yet my themes are not entirely clear. My pieces are filled with self-referential meta-subjects whose meaning lies somewhere near the edge of direct understanding. This complexity places my work squarely in the realm of highbrow, so called “fine art.” Yet surface and material suggest a visionary spirit. As a result I have come to occupy an odd space that is neither entirely reserved for academics nor primitives.
Ultimately I am a postindustrial cave painter gathering the tribe together in the warm stinking glow of the scrap lumber fire to recount the exploits of the pre apocalyptic man.
Human progress is over rated
This is an older statement. I still like the ideas it expresses:
By Dylan Strzynski
As a result of my background in printmaking and sculpture I have sought to develop reductive methods of painting that often combine drawing and mixed media elements.
When creating an etching plate the artist is engaged in a process of removal. Acid and sharp tools are used to create marks on the plate that will hold ink. Later, during printing, the artist may print the plate multiple times using different colors or combine multiple plates to create one elaborate print.
Sculptors who work with metal or found materials are engaged in the same additive/subtractive process. Pieces of metal may be scavenged and incorporated into a piece then cut away leaving parts of the original material still attached to the sculpture. Building up and taking away is nature’s way. The Earth compresses elements into stone. Continents emerge and drift across the face of the planet for billions of years then collide to make mountains. The wind and rain erodes them over an equally impossible period of time.
When I was introduced to printmaking in the mid nineties it re-energized my interest in drawing. Printmaking - etching in particular - through its process, had the effect of abstracting drawing for me. The steps and all of the material that was removed from the plate before I ever saw the first proof added unpredictability. The simple act of mark making became as exciting as it had been when I was a child.
The energy I discovered in printmaking is something I have tried to carry over into painting. As a result I have developed techniques that enable me to remove material from the surface of the painting. I do this by building up layers then scraping and sanding them away. Sometimes I arrive at smooth perfected surfaces, other times I work towards a very rugged, highly textures surface.
The landscapes I have chosen as my recent subjects mirror the techniques used to create them in nature. Scraping away the surface of the painting is a direct physical analogy to the way that the landscape is defined by the scraping of glaciers and machines or the way that an abandoned building weathers wind and rain.
I begin treating my surfaces before the first layer of gesso is spread across the panel and as a result have become more and more a perfectionist about the surfaces of my paintings - albeit a perfectionist seeking an imperfect kind of perfection. I may apply and sand a dozen or more layers across the entire surface of one of my panels. But the quality of that surface is just as important to the integrity of the finished piece as the splintering edges of the wood itself. It is those qualities that make a painting as much a part of the landscape as the shapes and colors depicted in the actual image.
I do not subscribe to any hierarchy of subjects. The visual vocabulary I have developed to mirror a bleak stretch of farmland serve to describe so much more than the place. I do not think of my self as a “landscape painter” in the classical sense. I am not interested in capturing the beauty of the land, but rather, it’s strength and what I can only describe as its “quality of haunted-ness.” An author like J.G. Ballard can describe blasted out landscapes of broken concrete for page after page until the setting becomes a metaphor for the psychological condition of the characters within the story. I seek to do this with my paintings.
That any degree of realism is retained within my paintings is the direct effect of my subtractive techniques. Because they reflect nature so accurately it is nearly impossible to completely divorce myself from literal representation. It is the ultimate illusion, like discovering the intricate matrix of microscopic abstractions that comprise one of Andrew Wyeth’s or Gerhardt Richter’s stunning portraits. I have found a way to flatten out and schematize what I see while making the image to appear, superficially, more like an optical illusion than the blueprint that it really is.
Human Progress is overrated.
Born in Flint Michigan. Formative years were spent in Northern Michigan. Education Bachelor of Fine Arts University of Michigan, 2001 Associates of Arts Northwestern Michigan College, 1998 Exhibitions Additive/Subtractive Works by Helen Gotlib & Dylan Strzynski, Ann Arbor District Library, Ann Arbor MI. 2018 Niceland, Tiny Buddha Space, Ann Arbor MI. 2017 Refractive, Ann Arbor Art Center, Ann Arbor MI. 2015 Allegorical Space, Ann Arbor Art Center, Ann Arbor MI. 2015 No Plan B, Chelsea River Gallery, Chelsea MI. 2013 10 Under 40, Chelsea River Gallery, Chelsea MI. 2012 Apocalypse Poacalypse, CAID, Detroit MI. 2012 Art Prize, Grand Rapids MI. 2011 Artifacts, The Gallery Project, Ann Arbor MI. 2011 A Show Of Sculpture And Installation by Kendal Babl and Dylan Strzynski, Galerei Pot & Box, Ann Arbor MI. 2010 Winter Doldrums Part 4, Forth from It's Hinges Warehouse, Ann Arbor MI. 2010 Winter Doldrums Part 3, Elevated Works, Ann Arbor MI. 2010 Water StreetGallery, South bend Museum Of Art, South bend IN. 2008-2009 Off The Beaten Road, Columbia College A&D Gallery, Chicago IL. 2008 Bu Con Presents: Earth World, Detroit MI. 2007 Place, Chicago City Arts Gallery, Chicago IL. 2007 Between The Lines, Water Street gallery, Saugatuck MI. 2007 Group Show, 212 Miller, Ann Arbor MI. 2007 Insideout Gallery, Traverse City MI. 2005 Gallery 109, Saugatuck MI. 2005 The Print, Ann Arbor Art Center, Ann Arbor, MI. 2003 Group Show, 555, Ypsilanti MI. 2003 Group Show, 555, Ann Arbor MI. 2002 University of Michigan School of Art and Design, Sixteenth Annual Art and Design Student Awards Exhibition, 2001 University of Michigan School of Art and Design, BFA Show, 2001 Experience
Regular award winner at street fairs around the country 2003 - present. Freelance commercial projects ranging from illustration to murals. Orthopedic Network News, Ann Arbor MI., regular contributor of medical related illustration 2004-2007.