Anyone who sees a Dan Witz painting is aptly astounded by the level of detail. Only a few trained eyes can tell that these hyperreal paintings are just are done by hand rather than photography. The street artist’s deft hand is perfectly seen at work in his Mosh Pit series, which depicts unruly concert-goers in different stages of rowdiness. The depth and color that Witz has applied to these paintings are astounding, as good as the old masters.
Mosh Pit paintings
In his wordings, Witz says that he sought out painting when he was looking for a translation from his rock musician days in his 20’s. He discovered that painting had the potential to offer him the same adrenalin that he found in music performance. Naturally, the punk rock scene was one of his inspirations. He would fit a camera on a pole and lift it over the crowd to capture moments of frenzy and chaos. The few lucky shots that perfectly captured the animated crowd would then form a base to build up hyperreal canvas pieces.
How the paintings were created
The work is a masterful combination of old techniques and digital technology. The artist starts with digital photos. These are then edited in Photoshop and painted on canvas as achromatic prints. The artist then falls back to the old glazing techniques to apply color, form, depth, shadow, and light. The final result is nothing short of a Bosch or Rubens.
The Mosh Pit series is perhaps the epitome of these punk rock-inspired paintings. Witz depicts the passion of the frantic crowds perfectly down to the graffiti on the baseball cap on the guy at the back of the hall, as well as details of the tattoos on necks and arms. The series depicts a rock crowd’s beautiful chaos brought out with a paintbrush rather than photography. French fashion house Dior featured this acclaimed series to a roaring success. The first in the series was the Big Mosh Pit that came out in 2007. In 2018, the exhibition Mosh Pit Paintings 2010-2018 was shown in London’s StoleSpace gallery.
About Dan Witz
Dan Witz was born in 1957 in Brooklyn, New York. He had a brief career as a punk rock musician in his 20’s before going into street art and realist painting. Today, he is a celebrated artist in both genres. His work has been exhibited in top galleries around the world, including Addict Gallery in Paris, Carmichael Gallery in Los Angeles, and DFN Gallery in New York. He has also received fellowships from the New York Foundation of the Arts.