Evan Hecox | Dark Island | Joshua Liner Gallery | NYC | May 24th to June 23rd 2012

Coming to an end this weekend at the Joshua Liner Gallery is Dark Island, an exhibition of new mixed-media works by the Denver-based artist Evan Hecox | This presentation marks his second solo show with the gallery | A longtime boobosh fave, Evan Hecox has a roving traveler’s eye – it is the gateway to his art | His passion for exploring unfamiliar cities has taken him to London, Mexico City, and Hanoi | With vintage Polaroid camera in hand, he scours the urban landscape, looking, lingering, absorbing, and editing | The images he captures are not documentary records, per se, but rather impressions of cities left behind in his memory | They set the stage for a stimulating dialogue with personal experience that crosses between different artmaking media and disciplines | Dark Island – a suite of acrylic and gouache works on vintage newspaper – is inspired by Hecox’s recent hikes across lower Manhattan and west Brooklyn in New York City | As in earlier series inspired by specific locales, the artist focuses here on telling urban fragments: a building façade, rooftop, isolated alleyway, waterfront, or elevated train trellis | Working precisely from photographs, he uses a highly refined process to subtract certain elements, laying down a skeletal vestige of a remembered setting that is then reimagined (or “amplified”) with painterly techniques | Though photography is an early stage in his artmaking practice and employed only as a reference, Hecox relishes the use of his near-obsolete cameras and film, noting, “I like to have a high level of materials and artistry run through the whole process.” | In The Stranger’s Grave, the lumbering side view of a tenement – rendered in a flat wash of gray gouache, drawn in ink – is punctuated with the fine lines of fire escapes, small windows, crisscross security grate, bicycles, a street tree, and the stray human silhouette | Rising up through the image are faint columns of printed type, the remnants of city life deposited over a century ago in the New York Weekly Times | Hecox has appropriated and specially treated this newspaper as a surface for the painting | Here, this palimpsest of recorded history is an evocative backdrop for a passage of contemporary graffiti writing recreated on the building’s façade | In works like Ideal Hosiery, Hecox riffs on the columnar attributes of the newspaper layout that mimic the blocky shapes in the windows and storefronts of his layered cityscape | Elsewhere, monochromatic parallelograms and bands of pure color—red, black, orange, green—course across the street scene like quotations from Malevich-style constructivism | These bold, abstract elements replace features from the source photographs in their placement, scale, and perspective, but they also appear to shift between fore- and background or exist in their own imaginative dimension | In Five Boroughs, Hecox dispenses with representation altogether, depicting instead the names of the city’s boroughs in an eye-popping, early-Modernist font | These graphic block forms, in an assortment of grays and other muted hues, conjure up Manhattan’s “Dark Island” of architectural greatness, intensity, and romantic memory | Across all of these works, Hecox distills his fascination with urban complexity, layering photojournalistic details, urban detritus, and art history into pentimenti from his own inner landscape | As the artist notes, “I like to use abstract elements, words, and small symbols as ways of breaking apart the original image and putting it back together as something new | My work ultimately looks out into the world to make an observation while at the same time pushing back into my own mind and demonstrating how a particular environment affects my senses.” | boobosh is gutted that we’re not in New York until November, would have loved to have seen this | If you are lucky enough to be there this weekend, be sure to check it out | 548 West 28th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10001 | joshualinergallery.com

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