Ripple Effect: An Interview with Dan and Jan (Dan Lam and Jan Kaláb)
Ripple Effect brings together two artists who use color and unearthly yet organic shapes as the basis of their work. Dan Lam and Jan Kaláb, both on view at Hashimoto Contemporary in LA starting on October 9, 2022, capture what the gallery notes as "the tension between moments through color, form and texture." In conversation ahead of their show, both Dan and Jan discuss their new bodies of work, unexpected influences and what they like in the others' work.
Dasha Matsuura: Both of your work is so rooted in color and chromatic explorations. What is the most challenging color/palette for you to work with? Do you have a least/most favorite color?
Dan Lam: I think true red and green are the colors I use least, if at all. Those are probably my least favorite colors as well. However, I do use pinks and mints/teals a lot! I also never use neutrals like brown, beige, or tan.
Jan Kaláb: I would not say that any color palette is too challenging, just some gradients between particular colors are more difficult to paint. For example gradient from red to purple. It happens that red is getting brownish if you make it darker in wrong way and mix it just with purple.
How do you approach making sculptural work? What draws you to making sculptural work vs traditional 2D painting/drawing?
DAN: I'm most drawn to sculpture because of the possibility of making a real physical object in the world. There's something really amazing/fulfilling about coming up with an idea, solving how to make it, then having it actually exist in 3D and take up space. I enjoy looking at painting and drawing, but it doesn't give me the same feeling as sculptures.
Jan: I did many objects/sculptures in past, recent years I was more focused on painting. But in fact my paintings are on the edge of painting and sculpture. To do large sculpture is definitely more challenging than creating big painting. In terms of material and space. It’s awesome to create a physical piece!
Both of your work captures a feeling or mood through abstraction; what are you trying to capture or think about in the recent works for the show? What is a short description of the pieces you're working on for the show? Are there particular questions you're asking yourself in the studio as you're making work?
DAN: I've been thinking much about reality, perception, and the unexpected. I'm continuing that visual language of repulsion vs attraction that's always been prevalent in my work, but I think it's become less of a focal point. I'm thinking about pushing mediums, my voice, and language and challenging myself while embracing those confident moments without overthinking. Many works in the show have a more intentional application of finishes. I'm using chameleon and aurora pigments that have color-shifting properties depending on the lighting, where you're standing, etc. to reflect those ideas of perception/reality.
Jan: I’m working on some pieces which combines two painting techniques (brush, spray gun) and I want to capture tension / movement between two substances. One is more fluid than the other one. I’m trying to react on Dan’s work which is very fluid and full of drips.
Process is a big part of your work, but with very different approaches. Jan, you're so precise, and Dan, you're so organic with the development of each work. Even with those differences, your processes also feel very akin in their meditative and process- driven components. What similarities/differences do you see in each other's way of working?
DAN: I got to see Jan do an installation in London. I know his work takes planning, but I also see that he leaves room for his intuition to play, especially when it comes to color. I think the fact that we both work with very organic forms speaks to our processes.
Jan: We both like to explore colors and gradients between them. I paint over the surface which I create - custom stretcher frame. I design the shape, so there is not much room for coincidence. Dan create the volume with colored polyurethane foam. So she basically build the shape with the color. And I assume coincidence is always part of her process. Then she paints over it as well. I love all her experiments with materials which she pour over the sculptures and than it affect all the color under this coat.
What influences do you have that may be unexpected?
DAN: Visually my work has obvious influences, like patterns and cues from nature. There is also an overlap with the psychedelic. But I'm also highly inspired by the books I'm listening to/reading while in the studio. I'll listen to psychological thrillers, philosophical fiction, and magical realism that give my work a sense of something deeper (if people want to go there with it) as you take in what's on the surface.
Jan: Life could be pretty unpredictable, weather as well. My mood is based on environment that surrounds me and my art is based on my mood.
What is your favorite piece of each other's work? Is there anything particular about the other's work that you're inspired by?
DAN: I love a lot of Jan's work so it's hard to narrow it down to one favorite. We did a trade a while back and I'm still obsessed with the piece he sent me. Maybe because I get to live with it, it's my favorite? Or knowing it's all mine? Obviously, I love the way Jan uses color. I feel like we have similar tastes when it comes to palettes. I also love how he composes his pieces and how some are like a puzzle that comes together. The way they come together gives them a lot of movement. He does a great job of making his paintings feel sculptural, whether it's utilizing color to create an illusion of space or actually shaping a canvas, it always makes me want to get close and take in more detail.
Jan: I believe Dan will do more larger sculptures in future and finds a way how apply the same look as what she does in smaller sizes. I remember her visualizations of drips on houses. Mind blowing. Her forms and colors are inspiring. As I already mentioned her her experiments with all these strange fluid transparent or semitransparent materials this is very interesting and inspirational.
Ripple Effect is on view at Hashimoto Contemporary Los Angeles from October 8—29, 2022