Dan Lydersen




My recent paintings are a reconciliation between past and present, particularly in regard to Western culture’s notions of spirituality and the relationship between society and nature. Drawing from a variety of contemporary and historical sources, from the Renaissance to modern cinema, literature and popular culture, the paintings are an attempt to come to terms with the present through the immediate marriage of today’s visual culture with that of the past. Both theatrical and satirical, comical and somber, the paintings pose a view of humanity that is steeped in the existential turmoil that lies between materiality and spirituality, where society trudges persistently forward into the future while the human search for meaning and purpose as mortal animals remains unresolved.

Having its roots in the Renaissance and manifesting itself in all manner of contemporary media, the notion of the rectangle as a window into an alternate reality has become an inherent mode of viewing in human culture. Whether via canvas, computer or television screen, there exists an eager willingness to suspend one’s disbelief and subscribe to the illusion of simulated space depicted on a two-dimensional surface. In my work, this notion of the rectangle as window is utilized to present fragments of narratives that are imbued with a degree of reality while also recognizing themselves as fictional constructs. Consisting of familiar archetypes from historical painting to contemporary popular culture, these narratives seek to draw focus on the grotesqueness, beauty, comedy, and horror that lie just beneath the surface of the ordinary. In this way, the rectangle is not only a window but also a kind of fun-house mirror that reflects an image of the real world while distorting it into something otherworldly.

The images themselves come from many different places. Some are calculated references to art history or contemporary culture and others are the result of free association, improvisation or imaginative flights of fancy. Some paintings aspire towards coherent satire or self-reflexive commentary on the nature of painting while others use history and current events as a loose foundation for constructing open-ended narratives. Some paintings are simply imaginative explorations executed for the sake of satisfying my own curiosity. In any case, central to each painting is a particular worldview that seeks to balance tragedy with comedy, beauty with ugliness, and rationality with uncertainty.



  • 2007

    • MFA, Painting San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA
  • 2002

    • BA, Art, with emphasis in Painting and Drawing University of California, Santa Cruz

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2017

    • Plebeian Rhapsody Jack Fischer Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2013

    • New Work Jack Fischer Gallery, San Francisco, CA.
  • 2010

    • Blue Skies from Now On Jack Fischer Gallery; San Francisco, CA.
  • 2008

    • Yesterday's Here Jack Fischer Gallery; San Francisco, CA.

Two Person Exhibitions

  • 2013

    • Endless Vacation Thinkspace Gallery, Culver City, CA.

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2017

    • Play! Palo Alto Center, Palo Alto, CA (forthcoming).
    • LAX / DTW: Detroit Hustle II Inner State Gallery, Detroit, MI.
    • Flourish Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, Mesa, AZ.
    • 8 Elizabeth Houston Gallery, New York, NY.
    • Thirty-Three: Celebrating 33 Years of Independent Spirit & Sundance Film Festival Kimball Art Center, Park City, UT.
  • 2016

    • Nexus Brand Library and Arts Center, Glendale, CA.
    • Unnatural Histories V, Antler Gallery Portland, OR.
    • LAX / ORD Vertical Gallery, Chicago, IL.
    • The New Vanguard The Lancaster Museum of Art and History, Lancaster, CA.
  • 2015

    • Pow! Wow!: Exploring the New Contemporary Movement Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HI.
    • La Familia Thinkspace Gallery, Culver City, CA.
  • 2014

    • Connect & Collect, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, CA.
    • New Visions of the West Whitespace Gallery, Ogden, UT.
    • For Real? Magical Realism in American Art Sullivan Goss, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 2012

    • Picks of the Harvest Thinkspace Gallery, Culver City, CA.
  • 2011

    • Devil Town Gallery 1988, Los Angeles, CA.
    • The Realists: New, Recent and Historical Works Artzone 461, San Francisco, CA.
    • Outlandish: Contemporary Depictions of Nature Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, CA.
  • 2010

    • Surrealism Now Casa Museu Bissaya Barreto; Coimbra, Portugal.
  • 2009

    • Family Pictures Root Division, San Francisco, CA.
  • 2008

    • Ten Under Thirty Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA.
    • MFA Selections Gatehouse Gallery, The Di Rosa Preserve, Napa, CA.
  • 2007

    • No Gifts, Please Michael Rosenthal Contemporary Art, Redwood City, CA.
    • Cream, From the Top Arts Benicia, Benicia, CA.

Professional Experience

  • 2015 - Present

    Animation Designer, Scenic Artist, Set Decorator, Muralist, Capital Stage Theatre, Sacramento, CA.
  • 2016 Juror

    Butte College Annual Student Art Exhibition, Oroville, CA.
  • 2014 MFA Mentor

    Lesley University College of Art and Design, Cambridge, MA.
  • 2010 Guest Lecturer

    Berkeley City College, Berkeley, CA.
  • 2008 Panelist

    “The MFA Experience”, Moderator: Michael Schwager, Di Rosa Preserve, Napa, CA.
  • 2007 Panelist

    “Artists’ Forum”, Moderators: Kenneth Baker and Glen Helfand, Arts Benicia, Benicia, CA.
  • 2004 Art Instructor

    Presidio YMCA Summer Camp at CELLspace, San Francisco, CA.

Selected Bibliography

  • 2013

    • Jessica Portillo, “Endless Vacation at Thinkspace Gallery” Platinum Cheese, August 17, 2013.
    • Fourteen Hills Volume 19.2, 2013.
  • 2012

    • Wag’s Revue Issue 13, Winter 2012-13.
  • 2011

    • New American Paintings #97 December, 2011.
    • Crazy 4 Cult: Cult Movie Art Titan Books, London, June 21, 2011.
    • Spencer Young, “Blue Skies From Now On” Art Practical, January 13, 2011.
  • 2010

    • Kenneth Baker, “Lydersen Represents” San Francisco Chronicle, December 25, 2010.
    • Dan Lydersen, "Dan Lydersen" Direct Art, Volume 17, 2010.
    • Maren Jinnet, "The Art of Devotion" Wired Magazine, April 2010.
  • 2008

    • "Sweet and Low” Hideous Sunday, November 7, 2008.
  • 2007

    • Bammer, Richard. “Top of Their Class.” The Vacaville Reporter, July 20, 2007. (Reproduction)
  • 2006

    • Nicolson-Singh, Saunthy. “Buildings and Bones”. Sacramento News & Review, October 19, 2006.

Gallery Affiliation

  • Jack Fischer Gallery, San Francisco, CA.