Visual chemistry, JR studio director, art collector, and curator, Marc Azoulay introduces one of his top picks for 2014, Daniel Horowitz

Former Pioneer Works artist-in-residence Daniel Horowitz sits down with Kristian Nammack and discusses the experience of his residency and how it left him changed as an artist. He expands on the benefits of leaving his commercial, daily-grind life behind to work full time on his painting, and how his residency plucked him from his comfort zone and set him down in a laboratory of experimentation, forcing him to confront his personal fears publicly and allowing him to discover his artistic identity.

Horowitz, 35, is a graphic designer by trade, an accomplished illustrator, and at least for the moment, a large-scale painter. For several months, he’s been trying his hand at the new medium in a residency at Pioneer Works Center for Arts and Innovation in Red Hook. Part of the experience is an open studio environment that allows visitors to watch the artists at work. “All the vulnerabilities are on display,” Horowitz explains. “[Painting] is bearing fruits, but it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done… I didn’t want to roll over one day and be 55, and say “man, I could have been a great painter if I had tried it.” Horowitz admits he began to feel overwhelmed several years ago by his commercial obligations. So much, that he curbed much of his graphic design work to start doing a drawing each day for a year (the results are now a book entitled 365 Drawing). “My soul was starting to hurt a bit,” he says between bites of cereal. “I really needed to do some personal work – to feel like I was producing at the same rate I consume.”

"His surreal creations are witty, disgusting and guaranteed to make you question your own free association. There’s lots of sex, skeletons and, fittingly, Rorschach tests.Through a mixture of collage and paint, Horowitz transforms scraps of paper and old photographs into fantastic things. He might show an animal’s infrared foetus complete with umbilical cord, or a buxom woman squished naked into a Victorian carriage. Maybe he’ll shove a gorilla head on a girl or copulating blue and red blobs on a tandem bicycle. He replaces faces with squiggly multicoloured worms and adds blood-sucking rodents to golden ringlets."

"Roland Topor and Hannah Höch attempt to illustrate the complete works of Lovecraft in one sweaty night, with Altered States distracting them in the background."

"Highlighting an excellent quirky collection of drawings du jour by New York based artist/illustrator Daniel Horowitz."

"Remaining adamant in feeding his growing curiosity, Horowitz, unlike many artists who observe their surroundings in hope of unveiling common societal misconceptions through their artwork, humbly wanted to prove his creativity through simplistic assistance; a short-lived revolution against the tainted marks of the digital age."

"Daniel Horowitz’s Surrealist Illustrations of Birds and Beasts In Daniel Horowitz’s 365 Series, which we spotted over at 50 Watts, dark shapes inhabit dressing rooms, creatures sit in for classic hairstyles, and twin fish-girls look at you askance. Apparently, that’s what happens when you sit down and do one drawing every day for a year — things start to get a little crazy."

"I rely heavily on this intuitive process to guide me in the right direction. Afterwords for reference i use anything from google to my extensive library of soviet era children's encyclopedias."

"Recently saw his self-published book, 365, which has been selected for the forthcoming American Illustration 31, and contacted him for this email Q&A."

"His illustrations resist easy categorization. They are not puns, nor are they what one might term ‘visual metaphors.’ Rather, they employ an associative logic, whereby disparate objects are collaged into impossible, dreamlike images that are nonetheless psychologically cohesive. Through dissonant object pairings (which tempt the viewer’s interpretive faculties), and a Freudian’s fluency in our collective symbolic lexicon, Horowitz makes visible the un-visualizable: Aging, Polish/Ukrainian Relations, Levity. "

"Daniel Horowitz sat down at his desk and began, with no particular purpose or direction, drawing on a blank piece of paper. That piece of paper turned into two, three, four, and eventually 365."