© 2004; Dani Tull

Dani Tull at Kim Light - Los Angeles, California

Art in America, November 1993, by Frances Colpitt

Dani Tull is a Los Angeles artist just three years out of graduate school at Stanford. "Eden," his first solo installation at Kim Light, showed him to be both sophisticated and charmingly simple and precise in his depictions of childhood innocence and sexuality.

The exhibition included 13 small watercolor paintings (all 1993) on duralene, a translucent support similar to vellum. Tull's style here is reminiscent of illustrations in old, pre-Dr. Seuss children's books. The paintings - drawings, really - are not childlike but rather like an illustrator's renderings intended to appeal to children or, more plausibly, the nostalgic taste of their parents. Washed with pale, wholesome color, the figures are outlined, convincingly modeled, and given legible poses. Rosy-cheeked children are paired with barnyard animals in either a bucolic landscape (with the requisite cottage in the background) or an unpainted white field. In Blacksheep, a boy wearing only shoes, socks and a straw hat bends over slightly as if to converse with a black sheep. Cowlick pictures a clothed girl seated stiffly on the ground, as a cow steps between her legs, lowers its head and wags its tongue. (Tull provides little black hatch marks beside the cow's tongue and ear, and behind the child's head to convey action.) Although most of the paintings are sexually suggestive, they are never explicit. The lewdness is as discreet as it is free of artifice. In Bumpin' Fuzzies, for instance, a smiling blonde girl-child is mounted by a comparably sized mouse while her lavender dress conceals the physical conjunction of the two.

"Eden" also included Daisychain, which covered a wall and the front of a counter in the gallery. A parade of generic dog silhouettes, each sniffing the rear end of the one in front, was inlaid in simulated wood paneling. Different shades or grains of paneling distinguished the bodies of the dogs from the background. The unobtrusive decor environmentally fleshed out the theme of the show, while a sculptural component, the Timelines, relieved the theme's singular focus. Approximately 30 Timelines, multicolored disks of tightly rolled crepe paper or toilet paper, sprouted like toadstools clustered in the center of the gallery's pale green painted floor. Because the fragile papers' colors are fugitive, they will soon fade (according to the artist) to more nearly resemble the tree rings for which they are named. In their pastel glory, however, they are straightforwardly desirable, graspable and celebratory. copyright 1993 Brant Publications, Inc.
copyright 2004 Gale Group