Maccarone Gallery has tapped Alex Hubbard for its inaugural show in Los Angeles, opening the doors on its impressively spacious South Mission Street exhibition space with a series of large-scale paintings that lean on a diverse set of materials including urethane, resin, and fiberglass in their challenging, polymorphous constructions.
Welcoming a certain degree of contingency and error in his works, Hubbard’s fascination with industrial materials, quick movements and even quicker decisions have earned him a reputation as a spokesman for a distinct brand of brusque, essentialist painting that favors immediacy, gestural potency and materiality over more formal painterly abstraction. Continuing his previous practices with auto-body paint, urethane and other heavy-duty material, Hubbard’s work here seems to swim in and out of relation to his previous practice, exploring both previously treaded ground and new possibilities for his chosen brand of mark-making.
Spread across the gallery, the material nature of Hubbard’s work is constantly emphasized, with some canvases stuck in the middle of the room on vertical stands, allowing a full, 360-degree pass around the work to see its rapid layers of paint and the occasionally covered marks that shine through on only one side. In each, the structure afforded by canvas stretchers are often incorporated into the work’s final execution, tracing lines across the surface of the work, or shining through several layers of paint. Hubbard’s work in these pieces constantly toys with the tension of his practice, allowing a flash of the painting’s underlying structure, or its concealment, to act as a guideline, often for both the viewer and the painter respectively. In some works, Hubbard merely coats his surface in a thin tint, allowing the grid-work to play as the primary focal point, while incorporating distinct elements from color field painting and minimalism that play well against the more ferocious marks nearby.
Considered as a whole, Hubbard’s pieces on view seem as much a response to the history of painting as they do a response to each other, as if the artist was exercising a series of gestural exercises that traced material, formal and historical potentials in equal measure. While Hubbard’s work feels distinctly grounded in the contemporary discourse of painting, this fusion of interests and explorations ultimately sets his work apart.
Basic Perversions is on view at Maccarone Through December 19th.
— D. Creahan
Alex Hubbard: Basic Perversions [Maccarone]