Briefly describe the work that you do.
I create work consisting of paintings, drawings, digital video and stills that engage with the history of abstraction as filtered through and informed by the pervasive influence of technology on contemporary culture.
At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?
I have drawn and painted since I was a child but I made the conscious decision to define myself as an artist early in my college education, perhaps at 18-19 years old. I once read that Jasper Johns felt that he became an artist when he simply decided to call himself one and that seemed good enough for me.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I have been doing geometrical based work for a long time, the gestural stuff would creep in but not to the extent that it has in last few years though. In my first year at Pratt I was taking a seminar with the sculptor Gillian Jagger and we had to bring in slides and present work made prior to enrolling in the class and she wanted us to explain how it related to our childhood. I though, “Oh god, I make geometric abstraction, how will I BS myself out of this?” The more I thought about it the more I realized that it did indeed relate to the industrial urban environment of the steel mills and oil refineries of Northwest Indiana that I encountered in my youth. There was a harsh geometry that was humanized in a strange way through the dirt, grime, peeling paint, and rust. I remember that area striking me as some sort of post-apocalyptic Mad Max movie set. That vocabulary rooted itself in my mind but for years I didn’t make the connection. Franz Kline wasn’t painting bridges from his hometown in Pennsylvania nor am I painting steel mills yet I think in both of our cases these things become a familiar visual language that one can tap into and use. Even today when I come back to visit family it is such a terrifying yet fascinating landscape.
What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?
The root of my work lies in my painting practice but I also make extensive use of digital tools. The work I make, tied to a medium that has a history several thousand years old, is modified and mediated by our contemporary technologically saturated culture and reflects my deeply ambivalent relationship with the digital.
We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?
In a conversation between painters David Reed and Stephen Ellis published in a catalogue on Reed’s work, Ellis says something to the effect that as artists we simply need to cultivate the ability to make the types of images we want to see. When listening to music I will often put on a nice set of studio monitor, over-the-ear headphones to really be able to hear the nuances in the mix, actively courting a deep-listening experience. I am trying to create the same type of relationship with my work, creating the type of images that I want to see and the experience of which will grow and expand upon repeated viewings.
What artists living or non-living influence your work?
Frank Nitsche, Albert Oehlen, David Batchelor, Bill Jensen, James Brooks, David Row, Willem DeKooning, Carroll Dunham, Bernard Frize, Carl Fudge, Ashile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Katharina Grosse, Heimo Zobernig, Hans Hoffman, Jacqueline Humphries, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Jonathan Lasker, Robert Motherwell, Joan Miro, Ed Moses, Thomas Nozkowski, Stephen Parrino, Richard Serra, David Reed, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Gary Stephan, Amy Silman, Pierre Soulages, Thomas Schiebitz, Cy Twombly, Christopher Wool, John Zinnser, Chris Martin, Alan Uglow, James Siena, Stephen Westfall, Wade Guyton, Stephen Ellis, Adrian Schiess, Paul Henry Ramirez, Andrew Spence, Bruce Pearson, Joseph Marioni, Manfred Mohr, Eric Tucker, Jeff Elrod, Juan Ulse, Beatriz Milhazes, Mary Heilmann and Dennis Hollingsworth as well as Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts, Assyrian reliefs, ancient Chinese sculpture to Modernist Graphic design and on and on and on. I am deeply engaged with visual culture of all types.
When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?
Reading, music, cooking.
Rochester, NY based artist Daniel DeLuna has exhibited his painting, drawing and digital work internationally. Starting as a painter, his work has been greatly extended and influenced by his engagement with digital media at the same time retaining the connection to the initial practice in that traditional medium. Working within an abstract visual language he creates richly evocative work influenced by art history, music and design. He holds an MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY and is currently Associate Professor in the School of Design at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.