Dan Hays

30 Underwood Street

Dan Hays’ recent exhibition included several paintings that depict an empty cage—the sort of thing used to house a guinea pig or hamster, with a plastic tray for a base, and top and sides made from wire. There is no pet visible, however, nor any evidence of one: no food, water, bedding, or exercise wheel. All we see is the structure itself, something designed to confine nature so we can observe it, smile at and talk nonsense to it, admire it, and let it impress upon us the necessities of responsible existence. Insofar as this image evokes the mundane and ubiquitous rituals of pet-owning, Hays continues to closely observe the details of ordinary life—things that would normally be dismissed pejoratively as “suburban.” As in his previous work, however, such subjects can more properly be viewed as the material for a reflection on painting itself.

The object presented is a straightforward

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