Dan Lydersen




My recent paintings are a reconciliation between past and present, particularly in regard to Western culture’s notions of spirituality and the relationship between society and nature. Drawing from a variety of contemporary and historical sources, from the Renaissance to modern cinema, literature and popular culture, the paintings are an attempt to come to terms with the present through the immediate marriage of today’s visual culture with that of the past. Both theatrical and satirical, comical and somber, the paintings pose a view of humanity that is steeped in the existential turmoil that lies between materiality and spirituality, where society trudges persistently forward into the future while the human search for meaning and purpose as mortal animals remains unresolved.

Having its roots in the Renaissance and manifesting itself in all manner of contemporary media, the notion of the rectangle as a window into an alternate reality has become an inherent mode of viewing in human culture. Whether via canvas, computer or television screen, there exists an eager willingness to suspend one’s disbelief and subscribe to the illusion of simulated space depicted on a two-dimensional surface. In my work, this notion of the rectangle as window is utilized to present fragments of narratives that are imbued with a degree of reality while also recognizing themselves as fictional constructs. Consisting of familiar archetypes from historical painting to contemporary popular culture, these narratives seek to draw focus on the grotesqueness, beauty, comedy, and horror that lie just beneath the surface of the ordinary. In this way, the rectangle is not only a window but also a kind of fun-house mirror that reflects an image of the real world while distorting it into something otherworldly.

The images themselves come from many different places. Some are calculated references to art history or contemporary culture and others are the result of free association, improvisation or imaginative flights of fancy. Some paintings aspire towards coherent satire or self-reflexive commentary on the nature of painting while others use history and current events as a loose foundation for constructing open-ended narratives. Some paintings are simply imaginative explorations executed for the sake of satisfying my own curiosity. In any case, central to each painting is a particular worldview that seeks to balance tragedy with comedy, beauty with ugliness, and rationality with uncertainty.


Individual Exhibitions

  • 2013

    • New Work Jack Fischer Gallery, San Francisco, CA.
  • 2013

    • Endless Vacation Thinkspace Gallery, Culver City, CA.
  • 2010

    • Blue Skies from Now On Jack Fischer Gallery; San Francisco, CA.
  • 2008

    • Yesterday's Here Jack Fischer Gallery; San Francisco, CA.

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2012

    • Wild at Heart Thinkspace Gallery, Culver City, CA.
    • Memes Gallery 1988, Los Angeles, CA.
    • Picks of the Harvest Thinkspace Gallery, Culver City, CA.
  • 2011

    • Devil Town Gallery 1988, Los Angeles, CA.
    • The Realists: New, Recent and Historical Works Artzone 461, San Francisco, CA.
    • Outlandish: Contemporary Depictions of Nature Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, CA.
    • Pillars of the Earth Distinction Gallery; Escondido, CA
  • 2010

    • Surrealism Now Casa Museu Bissaya Barreto; Coimbra, Portugal.
  • 2009

    • San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, CA.

    • Family Pictures Root Division, San Francisco, CA.
  • 2008

    • Ten Under Thirty Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA.
    • Red Dot Art Fair, New York, NY.
    • MFA Selections Gatehouse Gallery, The Di Rosa Preserve, Napa, CA.
  • 2007

    • No Gifts, Please Michael Rosenthal Contemporary Art, Redwood City, CA.
    • Red Dot Art Fair, Miami, FL.
    • San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, CA.
    • Cream, From the Top Arts Benicia, Benicia, CA.
    • San Francisco Art Institute Graduating MFA Exhibition Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA.
    • Red Ink Revisited Red Ink Studios, San Francisco, CA.
    • SFAI Now Red Ink Studios, San Francisco, CA.
  • 2006

    • Continuing MFA Show Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco, CA.


  • 2007

    • M.F.A., Painting, San Francisco Art Institute.
  • 2002

    • B.A., Art, with emphasis in Painting and Drawing, University of California at Santa Cruz.
  • 2001

    • Summer Study at the American University of Rome, Italy.

Artist Talks and Panel Discussions

  • 2010

    • Guest Lecturer, Berkeley City College, Berkeley, CA.
  • 2008

    • “The MFA Experience”, Moderated by Michael Schwager, Di Rosa Preserve, Napa, CA.
  • 2007

    • “Artist's Forum”, Moderated by Kenneth Baker and Glen Helfand, Arts Benicia, Benicia, CA.

Selected Bibliography

  • 2013

    • Jessica Portillo, “Endless Vacation at Thinkspace Gallery” Platinum Cheese, August 17, 2013.
    • Fourteen Hills Volume 19.2, 2013.
  • 2012

    • Wag’s Revue Issue 13, Winter 2012-13.
  • 2011

    • New American Paintings #97 December, 2011.
    • Spencer Young, “Blue Skies From Now On” Art Practical, January 13, 2011.
  • 2010

    • Kenneth Baker, “Lydersen Represents” San Francisco Chronicle, December 25, 2010.
    • Dan Lydersen, "Dan Lydersen" Direct Art, Volume 17, 2010.
    • Maren Jinnet, "The Art of Devotion" Wired Magazine, April 2010.
  • 2008

    • "Sweet and Low” Hideous Sunday, November 7, 2008.
  • 2007

    • Bammer, Richard. “Top of Their Class.” The Vacaville Reporter, July 20, 2007. (Reproduction)
  • 2006

    • Nicolson-Singh, Saunthy. “Buildings and Bones”. Sacramento News & Review, October 19, 2006.
  • 2004

    • “Entropic Amalgam.” Hasta Cuando, Spring, 2004. (Reproduction)
  • 2003

    • Rossi, Matt. “Lydersen Beyond Boundaries.” The Coast News, July 17, 2003. (Reproduction)