Magazine article Artforum International

Heather McGill: Dwight Hackett Projects

Magazine article Artforum International

Heather McGill: Dwight Hackett Projects

Article excerpt

Heather McGill's sculptures flaunt an essential flatness. While the forms at first appear to make specific allusions to recognizable objects, from toasters to guitars, they resist completing those thoughts but instead suggest, with a lipstick-slick seductiveness. Enacting a tightly controlled giddiness, McGill employs up to thirty layers of acrylic lacquer (commonly known as "candies") sprayed onto laser-cut aluminum or stainless steel skeletons, which are covered with fiberglass and layers of epoxy-coated urethane foam, then cold-molded using a vacuum bagging process. The five sculptures and nine laser-cut "drawings" that McGill showed at Dwight Hackett Projects recently, while sleek, thus also represent intense concentrations of energy.

The high-low wizardry of these lean, lavish forms--part Carl Andre, part Alice in Wonderland--is highly kinesthetic, an effect underscored by the relentlessness of McGill's application: She sprays color onto their surfaces every day for up to six weeks, ultimately achieving a result that evokes Raymond Loewy's streamlined silhouettes patterned like a set of satin sheets. McGill's is a maximalist's take on Minimalism, a transformation of Michael Fried's oft-repeated maxim, "art degenerates when it approaches the condition of theater." The sheen of her finish is as much fun, optically, as that of the "kustom kar kommandos" (Kelsey Martin in particular), who influenced a generation of West Coast artists, including Billy Al Bengston and John McCracken.

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Yet for all McGill's serial commentary on surface, in designs that hint at sources as divergent as Formica countertops, automatic writing, or magenta '70s prom bouquets, a grid usually runs beneath. Further, the work alludes to Duchamp's idea/ideal of the "infrathin," by which an object--such as the two-dimensional bride in the Large Glass--may theoretically pass into a higher dimension. …

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