Magazine article Artforum International

Harold Haydon

Magazine article Artforum International

Harold Haydon

Article excerpt

UKRAINIAN INSTITUTE OF MODERN ART

Harold Haydon, now in his 84th year, has argued for more than half a century that the spatial and optical traditions of the entire history of Western art are based in error, and that to date he has been the sole artist to approach these elements in an accurate manner. He particularly rails against what he describes as the "Cyclops convention": the attempt to render a world observed with the use of only one eye, with all elements, whether near or far, simultaneously existing in focus and seen from a single vantage point, positing what Haydon reads as a patently false universe. Haydon's paintings instead are based on the observation that humans are binocular, and forever perceive a world of doubled and overlapping images, comprised of continually shifting fields of focus. Never stable, never at rest, the world to Haydon is perpetually oscillating, a dizzying feast of complex and interweaving zones of space and matter.

Since the '40s Haydon has been applying this system of visual observation to a wide range of subjects, including genre scenes, nudes, portraiture, landscapes, and urban scenes of modern life. These latter, as in Conversation in the Street, 1947, particularly benefit from the oddities in his pictorial approach. The chaos of the bustling street, its up-tempo rhythms, the milling crowds, is reinforced by Haydon's refusal to permit the eye to rest, echoing the inchoate patterns of the street. A common device for Haydon is to place a figure or two in the foreground of his paintings, and their confusing and doubled silhouettes set the tone. …

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