Patrick Hill: The Approach E2

By Fiduccia, Joanna | Artforum International, January 2009 | Go to article overview

Patrick Hill: The Approach E2


Fiduccia, Joanna, Artforum International


Perhaps the most unlikely thing about Patrick Hill's recent work is the fact that someone like Hill made it. Sternly elegant forms and somber opulence seem improbable for a former surfer dude; hence the frequent reference, in the titles of some of his previous paintings and in articles written about the artist, to Hill's brain tumor (discovered and subsequently removed in 2001)--as though this biographical nugget could account for either the sculptor's avid formalism or his tendency to sully it with organic and abject substances. Cancer appears to complicate the surfer stereotype in just the way that these materials--from vegetable dyes to syrups to staples to spit--exert their friction on formalism: by eating away at the beatitude of the essentials.

For his recent solo exhibition, Hill presented three sculptures and a selection of paintings. In Oriental, 2008, a pane of glass is sandwiched between four wooden beams that are painted black on all sides but bleached to a bruised pinkish purple on the fourth; the effect is far less exuberant than Hill's earlier works, which were often tie-dyed a sunnier palette. Piercing through another sheet of glass that bisects the first, a steel rod is draped with swaths of bespattered linen like a miniature mock-up of a Robert Morris felt work. In Ruins, 2008, a slab of marble profaned by violet dye stands between two sheets of tinted one-way glass. As with Larry Bell's boxes, Ruins imprisons the viewer's reflection, then suddenly shanghais it into a black hole. Moving around these sculptures is like executing a mating dance around static forms, animated by Hill into a swift succession of alluring poses. …

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