Jason Dunda

Not Just Another Pretty Face 2019

Program Overview


Jason Dunda

Unequal and unbalanced power captures my attention. I am working through source imagery from opposite ends of the authoritative spectrum – the hoodie, Josephine Baker, military uniforms, corporate mascots, and the pulpit. I blend and conjure a nonexistent middle ground as a sort of whimsical indictment. This parody of authority often results in portraitive abstractions. An implied head functions as an identity that can’t quite be. I create sculptural busts constructed of polystyrene, wood, and waterbased resin to serve as a visual reference for these paintings as well as an autonomous art object. When installed, I intend for my work to transform the exhibition space into a place of ironic celebration through caricature, as well as a space for liberal outrage. Mitch McConnell, Judith and Holofernes, Joe Arpiao, Mike Daisey, and Miss Teen USA 2016 have been recent subjects for this form of sarcastic canonization.

I design and create custom display furniture that blurs boundaries of cultural capital – my carved heads are shown on unfinished wooden stands that refer to roadside signage, museum vitrines, and podiums. I am interested in what results from a conflation of decorative and utilitarian formal and material cues. I want to insinuate handmade utility and vernacular craft upon the sterility of the exhibition space.

Another essential element of my process is to gather information through site visits, fieldwork, and archival research. Recent investigations have included the racist origins of dunk tanks and a 1930’s suburban housing development repurposed as an internment camp for Parisian Jews. I am drawn to overlooked incidents in history or unacknowledged contemporary events. These small, marginalized narratives often contain subtleties and complexities that dissolve boundaries between good and bad, victim and aggressor, beginning and end. Questions arise when the moral of the story is sabotaged.

I depict my imagery with an improvisational, gestural approach and a limited but sophisticated colour palette. I intend to temper the weight of my subject matter with lyrical, clumsily seductive line, form, and colour. I distill futility and failure into formal playfulness. I do not aspire to epiphany; I choose instead to highlight, satirize, and impugn.

Jason Dunda







For more information or to commission a unique work of art through Not Just Another Pretty Face, contact Maria Nelson at mnelson@hydeparkart.org or 773.324.5520 x1014.