A dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, Dylan Vandenhoeck has spent the last six months painting a series of immersive landscapes in Los Angeles. He works primarily on location—en plein air— and is aided in the studio by sketches, iPhone photos, and voice memos. The carefully chosen locations feel iconic, though for different reasons. There is the desolate view of Miracle Mile at night. A nearly hidden shot of the Hollywood sign peeks out at the bottom of a painting done at the Hollywood Reservoir. A vertiginous painting within a painting was made at a sun-baked shopping plaza a few blocks up the street from the gallery.

Another is a portrait of the establishing shot in Melrose Place. Vandenhoeck’s paintings embody the enmeshed presence of the artist in the world, both a responsive and active participant in any scene he paints. He has described his process as “letting the exterior do the work.” On the canvas, this means that the scenes writhe around the viewer, following an incomprehensible, but irresistible, geometry that is structured around the artist’s own body in space. One can feel Vandenhoeck’s desire to be more than a “good painter,” the artist’s uncertainty about what that means, and the vulnerability of working this out in public. Vandenhoeck is not a typical realist. His work has a once-you-see-it-you-can’t-unsee-it quality that unfolds slowly, revealing layers of experience that feel true to life because of their immediacy rather than any illusion of rendering. The paintings have the feeling of the dream where one discovers a hidden, magical room in a familiar house. Viewers are, in turn, left with something they can keep—the unlooked for gift of “it was there the whole time.”

Date: October 2 — November 62021
Photography: Ed Mumford