"There’s a reason Darren Orange’s grim, grimy paintings look as if they were fished out of a junkyard: They were. The Astoria artist frequents landfills in search of discarded building materials, half-used glue canisters, tars, shellacs and other various goos, all of which he then uses as media for his startling works on panel. Orange intends his abstracted landscapes as critiques of environmental toxification but whatever their conceptual aims, the works stand on their own as sensualist statements, owning the small Lovelake Gallery space with pure expressionist drama. With their rusty, organic color palette, their dump-born media smearing and dripping, and their coagulated gunk and burlap chunks protruding from the panel plane with topographic ambition, these fantasias of secretionary funk capture chthonian decay in a net of Apollonian ruthlessness. Like Marlow steaming his way up the Congo or spelunkers penetrating the darkness with their helmet-mounted lights, Orange is probing the quicksand with a steel pole. He will never hit bottom, and he knows it. His preference for earth tones and found media anchors him in the slimy muck-fuck of pollutive decay, far from the gleam and buff of our fashionable post-minimalism. No doubt, his sophisticated technique, which revels in surface effects, would yield more emphatic results in bolder hues and cleaner materials, but Orange isn’t interested in immaculate exclamation points; he prefers the fatalistic ellipsis. This is not Ellsworth Kelly-this is the corpse of Ed Kienholtz rising from the grave to impregnate Lucinda Parker, conceiving an unholy spawn that is far from pretty, yet somehow perversely brilliant."
Richard Speer Williamette Week April 2004
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