We never before thought of a body-filled Peter Paul Rubens painting as punk rock, but contemporary painter Dan Witz is quickly changing our minds.
His series of hyperrealistic mosh pit paintings, entitled "N.Y. Hardcore Paintings," depicts swarms of entangled and often tattooed flesh with near perfect detail. Harnessing the bizarre ebullience captured in those moshing moments, Witz renders a both nausea-inducing parent's nightmare and a Renaissance, flesh-filled moment of beauty at once.
Witz' series revolves around the mosh pit, that moment of passionate intensity when the individual gives way to the power of the music and enters the collective mosh of the crowd. Witz compares the feeling to Whitman's "barbaric yawp," that almost spiritual climax of animal energy. Witz explained further in an email to the Huffington Post Arts:
"Back in my 20's as my brief career as a musician was waning to a close, I knew I’d really miss the intensity of performing when I returned to making art full time. But I discovered in my museum wanderings -- especially in the epic baroque multi-figure pieces -- that painting actually had plenty of potential for the adrenalin and animalistic frenzy I craved. The action, especially in the large set pieces by Rubens, Brueghel and Bosch can be dizzying, sometimes it even manages to achieve an almost punk-rock pitch of chaos and catharsis."
This isn't Witz's first time reviving classic art historical sentiments with contemporary phenomena. In another series Witz focused on the electric illumination that emanates from cell phones, creating a meditating moment of solitude or a technologically induced trance.
The mosh pit paintings range from judgmental to exalting, with some glorifying the raw energy of punk rock chaos and others comparing the instinctual ritual to a herd of rats or dogs. No matter your opinion on the merits of moshing, we bet you'll find Witz' painting skills a sight to behold. See the range of sweat-drenched works below and let us know your thoughts.