Bent (Why Horses Paint), is a selection of new works by multimedia artist Alex Hubbard, and his first solo show with Galerie Eva Presenhuber in the gallery’s Löwenbräu complex exhibition space. Hubbard’s paintings move beyond the medium’s traditional two dimensional form, bending into shapes and structures which often seek complete autonomy from the wall.
These new paintings maintain a connection to previous works, such as Hubbard’s Trash Paintings, where the artist attached plastic objects cast in urethane to his canvases. The assemblages from both series become both commentary and choreography, their arrangements capturing the chaotic possibilities that exist for painting on canvas.
However, the works comprising Bent Paintings are based on a singular painting that was molded and cast nine times. The actual making of these paintings is hinted at in the show’s only video work, where Hubbard manipulates everyday objects before destroying them. The video’s performative nature, in relation to the exhibition’s paintings, bring to mind the legacy of Action painting, with its similar affinities to physicality and spontaneity.
Of course, some the improvisational elements present themselves by Hubbard’s use of volatile materials that require him to work fast and allow for unplanned results. The works on canvas achieve a painterly-ness that evolves directly from their process of creation. Through mounds of paint, Hubbard expounds on the visibility of the painting’s construction, and the painting’s own construction.
The multi-media and multi-dimensional nature of Hubbard’s work is a process of layers: layering a painter into video work, laying performance art into a painting and layering all elements into a sculptural form. A passage of avant-garde wordplay from the artist’s 2012 interview with Mousse Magazine conceptualizes this idea, and provides a small clue into the exhibition’s title, as well as to Hubbard’s use of polysemy within both his canvases and his speech:
“It’s great being able to layer one’s skin like that, to double it up, yield and harness its derivatives, and that painting is a medium that is sensitive, like a photographic plate, to skin’s becoming – onion only sweetens the deal – or at least keep my owners from putting ping-pong balls up my nose. While my marks are abstract, my artistry holds greater affinity with the creativity of something like a surveillance camera; a being affected by its ever possible documentation, a sort of techno-occasionalism. By prosthetic grace of this sensitized material surface, paint becomes me for the eternity that I will be glue.”
Alex Hubbard is originally from Toledo, Oregon and now lives and work in New York. His work was shown in the 2010 Whitney Biennial and he has had several solo shows in the United States. Bent Paintings closes on January 19th.
All photos Courtesy of Stefan Altenburger Photography, Zurich for Galerie Eva Presenhuber