Dan Herschlein has become well-known for his focus on deeply eerie subject matter, with a particular bent for depictions of sinister figures in domestic settings. The manner in which he tends to realize these scenes only amplifies their unsettling effects: using sculptural elements that extend objects, arranged in a painting-like composition across the plane of a canvas, into the physical space surrounding a piece. Herschlein places these 3-D reliefs strategically so that the creepiest possible components—from hands that seem to act on their own accord; to ghostly faces pressed against fabric; to otherwise obscured or malformed body parts—project forward from the frame.
For his third solo show at JTT, titled "Dweller," Herschlein unveils six new iterations of these distinctive hanging works. Also included is a large-scale, slab-shaped installation that looks to be a cross-section of a house—its facade on one side, interior-style paneling on the other, all penetrated by two windows. In the gallery, the orientation of this freestanding wall forces visitors to approach it from the outdoor-facing half. A familiar contrast—the pitch-black exterior interrupted by glowing rectangles— signals that night has fallen over the home. Peering through the windows reveals glimpses of Dirt Dream (2020), in which a pair of disembodied hands appear tucked into a bed.
Elsewhere, as in The Boneless One (2020) [pictured]—in which a shrouded, imposing figure stands in front of a similarly structured window while pushing his fingertips against the glass—the dynamic switches: now the viewer is on the inside, watching as a stranger materializes out of the dark. — Rachel Small
Dan Herschlein, The Boneless One, 2020. Wood, plaster, pigmented joint compound, epoxy putty, milk paint, wax, graphite, color pencil, fishing line, 51.5 x 41.5 x 8 inches. Courtesy of the artist and JTT.