I have known Dan since very early days. When he came from the Rietveld Academy to expand his fashion background with experimental Transmedia Art Studies at University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Ever since I observed the evolution of his art.
Yet Dan Gonen already started out with a refinement and sophistication rather hard to match. He has the rare gift to formulate precisely the most subtle and ephemeral facets of established features so that something you hardly knew existed at all is suddenly given, not only a place in the material world, but also the perfect form.
Often Dan's artistic vocabulary is light, surprising and playful. It even stays that way when he is dealing with subjects usually manifested dark and heavy. Maybe this is one of the secrets why his work is so powerful.
One of his first pieces I saw was small series of coats. Delicately cut of darker toned fabrics with the finest of small bright yellow and pink prints individually designed. They were so appealing I remember him having several highly accomplished artists and professors almost beating themselves over who gets to buy them.
But lucky for me as a curator Dan did not sell at this time (but rather custom made new pieces for his new fans). So he still had the coats when I made an exhibition about how far our language of written and spoken words can get us in dealing with the unspeakable.
The title of the three coats, two for adults, one small as for a young child, was „Costumes for the pink and yellow family“.
Suddenly we have black and white picures arise in our minds from the times of the Third Reich, of families and individuals being persecuted and deported. When the colors pink and yellow were some of the codes that distingished between live or not.
Somehow these three coats, part of an installation, presented on hangers with thin threads create an atmosphere where some of the most monumental questions of human existence get tangible and touchable. These coats are our coats.
Over the years my curatorial work allowed me to work with Dan several times. These occasions have always been an endless pleasure. Dan is a fascinating, experienced and open minded professional. His work is unique, his artistic standards extremely refined. Above all he offers a relaxed personality, allowing complex discussion, calm and concentrated work to perfection as well as lighthearted recreation and great fun afterwards.
Ines Agostinelli, artist and curator
Costumes for the
pink and yellow family
silk-screen print on linen
patch work, coats