With phalluses sprouting from their heads, no eyes, and aggressively gaping mouths, the cartoonish protagonists of Ship engage in what appears to be a tragicomic battle. A similar cast of eccentric characters—suggesting the awkward or, as Dunham puts it, “bumpy” nature of life—recur throughout his paintings from the past decade. Dunham began his career as an abstract painter in the early 1980s and quickly became a key figure in the medium’s resurgence in the United States after decades dominated by Minimal and Conceptual sculpture and installation art. While he no longer works in a fully abstract mode, his process continues to be intuitive, guided by trial and error rather than premeditated subjects or themes. He recently described painting as “a perfect storm of the crass, the sacred, and the intimately personal.”
Gallery label from 2010.