Daniel Winn’s keen artistic eye, affable personality and strong work ethic served him well in bringing dozens of obscure and unknown artists (including M.L. Snowden, N. Tuan, Ira Reines and André Desjardins) to national and international prominence. Acting as agent and curator, he guided, influenced and collaborated with those artists to create collections which are recognized for their creativity, originality and quality. He curated museum and gallery exhibitions throughout North America and Asia, in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
But those successes had a cost for Winn who was unable to devote time to creating his own artwork. He promised himself that he would return to it one day, eventually setting the age of 50 as the time at which he would do so. Thus in 2016, Winn returned to his canvas and brushes and began to create again in a style he termed “Existential Surrealism”.
Winn’s goal with “Existential Surrealism” is to explore the basic nature of human existence and examine the relationship between free-will and providence, between self-determination and the universal plan. The works are predominately figurative as it is inherently focused on the human experience, but also incorporates abstract and even mythological elements to communicate the divinity of creation. Winn draws upon his own life experiences, surreal in themselves, his ancestral culture and the contemporary influences of the culture and nation which he has called home since escaping war-torn Vietnam in 1975.
Defining Existential Surrealism
The artistic style known as “Existential Surrealism” was developed by artist and international curator Daniel Winn.
Philosophically, the style involves contrasts and counterpoints and examines the physical and spiritual dichotomy of existence. It juxtaposes the idea of a universal creative divinity against the concept of free will and self-determination by recognizing divinity as the genesis of autonomy and acknowledging our responsibility for universally constructive action.
Visually, Existential Surrealism uses a surrealistic style and subject matter to encourage the viewer to examine the nature of existence. The frequent use of partially translucent figures is a metaphor for the physical/spiritual duality which is at the core of the style. Fields of abstract and surreal backgrounds depict the contrasts which define existence. Nonrepresentational elements and depictions of falling and flowing water represent a non-denominational, secular view of universal divinity.
Winn’s own life experience as a child refugee of civil war airlifted to a strange new home and his exceptional success integrating into its distinctly different and often intolerant culture while maintaining a sense of his ancestral heritage are important influences in the development of the style.