For me painting is meditative. This is how I go into another world. I am awake, I am alert, yet completely absorbed in the act of painting…not thinking of anything else. — Dana Dion
Dana Dion’s paintings reflect an intense exploration of the world and her subsequent quest for inner expression of that experience. The bold physicality of her painterly surfaces is balanced with a sense of tender vulnerability and an obvious love for the process of painting.
Luscious and evocative, the works explore the vast reaches of a rich inner landscape through a language that she has developed over the years. “I aim to locate a place where I belong. To connect, care, and have a place that is mine.” She continues to discover that locus within herself.
Dion’s peripatetic life has introduced her to many landscapes. Born in Tel Aviv, she traveled back and forth between East Africa and Israel during her childhood years until 1974 when her family moved to Vancouver Canada. This is where she found an early voice for her work by painting large-scale murals on the walls of her school.
She returned to Israel at 18, and traveled to London to represent Israel in Miss World 1979. After the competition, she spent a year living and working in Los Angeles.
She returned to Vancouver in 1980 where she ran highly successful fitness businesses for 12 years and initiated the first Canadian Ironman Triathlon race in Penticton Canada. In 1995, she, her husband, and three children moved to London. During that time, she studied painting, eager to learn techniques and embrace her natural inclination for visual expression.
In 2000, Dion and her family settled in Sydney, and she found herself at home in the sensibility of Australia’s varied landscape. Since 2005, she has dedicated herself full-time to painting, applying the discipline of a lifetime. She notes in her artist’s statement:
Art for me is the excitement of creation in a relatively unstructured way. Painting and drawing frees me to express, think, push boundaries, learn, explore… I can let go and there is no need to conform. It is my creation… not what is expected of me from others.
Her abstracted landscapes are influenced by her lifetime connections to the geographies of Israel and Australia. “I love the Australian bush, sea, vegetation, sounds and smells,” she notes. She and her husband often camp in various spots for periods of time there. While out in the landscape, she photographs and sketches.
But Dion is a studio painter, and she spends most of her time painting from memory and feeling. In the privacy of her studio, she creates a dialogue between herself and work that is ongoing, active, and always fresh.
I take experiences out in nature back to my studio and paint large. I use a lot of paint. I make a mess. I am very physical when I work, moving energetically. I allow the movement to initiate rhythms. I capture the energy by painting quickly. Intuition and boldness drive the work. Accidents along the way make for spontaneity and improvisation.
In this dialogue between the planned and the unplanned, Dion finds a balance. Her works are often tethered by an underlying grid and horizontal structure referencing landscape. A lexicon of shapes and her distinct language reoccur, regardless of the environment from which she draws her inspiration. “The landscapes do not depict a specific place, but rather a recording of the many places I have lived without borders or boundaries,” she explains.
I create works that excite me. I can’t do authentic work if I am also thinking about the audience, because the work is too self-conscious. I can dream and feel while I am alone, allowing my emotions to surface without directing or controlling them.
Dion’s worldview is one of connection, not separation. When looking at her life and work, the traces of longing for a deeper connection are evident. For her, this link to a sense of place that cannot ever be uprooted is essential. Intimate and beyond words, these paintings echo not only a sense of place, but a sense of peace.