Dan Trantina and Peter Sadofsky started to work together on collective projects in 2014. Their first piece was a monumental sculpture for the European Parliament in Brussels. They call their collaboration GesamteEntarteteKunstWerke (Completely Degenerate Art Factory). They are presently living and working in Los Angeles and Prague.
Dan Trantina and Peter Sadofsky started to work together on collective projects in 2014. Like Gilbert and George, they co-author their pieces and work simultaneously together not only in sculpture, but even on canvases. Their first piece was a monumental sculpture for the European Parliament in Brussels, which was unveiled by the EU Commissioner for Culture Tibor Navracsics on 26 May 2015. The sculpture was then Exhibited by Museum Kampa in Prague and its founder and philanthropist Meda Mladek provided her estate on St. Thomas island for the artists as a winter residence. On their way to St. Thomas, the artists visited San Juan which turned out to be a key inspiration for their new painting series, created partially there and in their St. Thomas residence specifically for the DL Art Gallery. The unique amount of art in the visually striking streets of San Juan and the Caribbean colourful atmosphere gave them the initial direction for their most recent works. In San Juan they have also founded their new collective called GesamteEntarteteKunstWerke (Completely Degenerate Art Factory), named after an exhibition of modern art in Munich 1937, that was supposed to prove the works of the contemporary artists as degenerate. Sadofsky & Trantina’s wide range of artwork is developing into an elaborate concept of aesthetics where the trivial and the subcultural becomes as influential on their working practice as the masterpieces of art history. Often sparked off by the banality of life, by politics, media and advertising, for these artists there is no subject which could not be turned into art. Sharp-witted self-irony is a large part of their strategy: borrowing from all aspects of culture ensure their own relevance within it. Sadofsky & Trantina’s works are a grandiose epitome of ego, and a megalomaniac approach to sculpture as well as paining. Their diverse methodology and previous experience gives them the advantage of multi-medial artists that are able to turn out unmatched artwork in any category.
Sadofsky & Trantina’s 2016 paintings were created during their residency in an empty ran-down villa belonging to the founder of the World Monetary Fund and overlooking the Caribbean sea. This strange enclosure enabled the creation of paintings that trade in high-art esteem for a certain comic brutality; they are beautiful and stupid at the same time, straight-forward and complexly inter-cultural in a re-invention of figurative and abstract painting for a sophisticated self-ironic introspection, so typical for their collaborative oeuvre. Borrowing equally from graffiti and traditional avant garde painting, the Caribbean series’ strange floating figures and deviant faces are reminiscent of surrealist artists such as Joan Miro or the expressive carelessness of Jean Michel Basquiat, while its impoverished style and construction keeps in line with GEKW’s populist values. GEKW is short for Sadofsky & Trantina’s new collaborative project GesamteEntarteteKunstWerke. This new collective identity deliberately bearing a German name of a rather derogatory character translating as Manufacture of Completely Degenerate Art, is a symptomatic step in their ambiguous game of aesthetics and conceptual structures. The title is a direct take off from Hitler’s famous collective exhibition of modern artists in 1937, termed as degenerate (Entartete) and exhibited in an attempt to prove the then contemporary artists as bad artists or non-artists. The involved authors, like Braque or Kandinsky for example, had since become what Western cannon refers to as Great Masters. According to their own claim, the only way for Sadofsky & Trantina to master their art, is to turn completely degenerate. This strategy has typically self-mocking undertones as allegedly it is very hard work, since both authors perceive themselves to be otherwise “rather perversely normal people”.
Every aspect of Sadofsky & Trantina’s practice is a selfcontained act of decadence, designed to create a myth of the artists’ existence as a whole. In the Nude Celebrity Series, they paint images stripped of direct content: a series of large canvases bolstering grotesque nudes bearing comic titles linking the personae of the authors to various popular celebrities in the bubbly style of ever-present media banality. A typical title of a piece from the series reads: Paris Hilton at her Bel Air Pool Trying to Reach the Artist on her Cell Phone, with a subtitle pained in a smartphone held by the grotesque figure: “Dialling Trantina…” (1). Sadofsky & Trantina’s paintings operate as an anti-advert for themselves, poking fun at the emptiness of our contemporary cultural symbols and the tradition of painting and the way it’s been historically and ideologically subverted.