James Hyde was in Richmond last week for the inaugural exhibition of the exciting new Solvent Space. I caught his lecture and took a bunch of notes of which this will be the first posting. Please note that Hyde's exhibition at Brent Sikkema will be closing Saturday and is one of artcritical.com's exhibitions under review tonight at the National Academy.
Hyde began the lecture with the announcement that his Large Air Cushion featured at Solvent Space is something that hasn't been shown publicly before and that painting it was sort of a response to 9/11 - "not an expression of pain and futility or death" but as "a way to be constructive when my city was so broken". He also stated, quoting a woman he met at an event sometime after the election, that "states that voted for Bush were overwhelmingly states without the arts" and affirmed his belief that the arts are important in teaching "knowledge, empathy, consideration, and independent thinking".
Some introductory quotes included "I generally work in a purposeful manner" and "tend to use material not as simply medium or vehicle" but "tend to emphasize the physical overlooked qualities of painting". "I like to scramble the hierarchies of painting". "Ventilation is important to me. Not quite sure what that's about but I'm always thinking about it". "I'm increasingly interested in framing".
On Large Air Cushion, and maybe he was speaking of his pillow paintings generally, Hyde said "it would be really horrible if it were on stretched canvas but the panel saves my ass" and "when they're vertical they take on a more figural aspect, they become cyphers for the body". A slide was shown of a large pillow slumped against the wall and Hyde revealed that it was stuffed with about three or four hundred pounds of crumpled newspaper.
Hyde showed a slide of something that he called a painting that is a pedestal with pockets, saying that he had the urge to make it but that "I still don't know what that's about". He talked about looking at the world around him - fashion, hip-hop fashion, baggy jeans - and noticing that "most paintings are like Calvins, as in 'nothing comes between me and my Calvins'", leading to the idea of making "baggy paintings". Hyde shared that the baggy paintings are coated on the back with many layers of a urethane foam and that they are in fact "hard like a surfboard".
A nice group of works of colored concrete on shaped styrofoam that Hyde said he had made by asking himself the question "what if monochrome was just a little bit friskier?" looked great in the Paris gallery installation shot we were shown. The space had been loaned out to a dance company and breakdance performance was put on. It was perfect, the paintings looked like they were twisting off the wall to join the dancers.