Artist David Datuna’s Elements at Birnam Wood/Galleries

Artist David Datuna’s Elements at Birnam Wood/Galleries

From left to right: Abraham Lincoln and Audrey Hepburn.


Earlier this week, I visited Birnam Wood/Galleries to check out mixed media artist David Datuna’s latest show Elements. Gallery owner Patrick Dawson showed me around and shared his thoughts on Datuna’s work.

Showcasing iconic figures like Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe and Martin Luther King, this is Datuna’s first full show of portraits. Datuna previously displayed Emblem and Image­—a series of collaged American flags also covered with lenses—at Birnam Wood in the fall of 2012. Dawson explained that with Elements Datuna wanted to further explore portraiture and “go beyond the idea of celebrity.”

Each piece is comprised of an archival pigment print of the person and a layer of prescription lenses that represent different ways to look at him or her. The prescriptions have varied magnifications so the viewer’s “perception can shift”—visually and mentally, Dawson said.

At different angles, I also noticed the colors change. Looking straight at the portraits from a short distance, many seem black and white. When I stepped to the side or looked closer, I could see the rainbow of individual pixels making up each print.

According to Dawson, Birnam Wood features a “broad range” of works “purposefully”—from contemporary work like Datuna’s to more traditional art. He also said the gallery tends to feature painters and leans toward abstract expressionism.

Painter Clifford Smith has an upcoming show at Birnam Wood. His works depict scenes meant to look like “imagery from a speeding car,” Dawson said. He explained that Smith captures “how we perceive time, from moment to moment.”

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