Past: February 11 → March 24, 2012Julian Hoeber Du 11 février au 24 mars, La galerie Praz-Delavallade accueille Julian Hoeber pour sa seconde exposition personnelle en France. Une... Critique
Praz-Delavallade presents its second solo exhibition with work by Los-Angeles based artist Julian Hoeber. The show will include five new paintings from his ongoing series Execution Changes, a set of drawings and three chairs that are part of a new furniture design project.
GPD: Comparing your actual show to your last exhibition at the gallery here in Paris (2009), there are similarities, but you have also undergone a big step towards a new project. One might think of Frank Stella first seeing your paintings, but your new series also makes use of Sol Le Witt’s idea of the concept as a quasi-automatic machine to produce an artwork.
JH: I’ve been thinking of Sol Le Witt since the beginning. After seeing a group of his wall drawings, I started thinking about procedures for dividing up a composition. One of the things I’ve always felt about LeWitt, is that there are a lot of things that his apparent rigor leaves to the side and never deals with. His very clean, rational style pretends towards a kind of neutrality, but of course we know those are aesthetic choices. Execution Changes, the current series of paintings I am working on, is based on a system for dividing a rectangle, able to generate several thousand unique compositions. What interrested me was to set up a conceptual system, but really lean on the subjective part. So the compositions are conceptual, but the execution is very subjective.
GPD: By doing so you manage to confront the often deskilled practice of minimal and conceptual art with the love of studio practice and the need of creating something with ones own hands. Indeed within this systematic approach, you tend to explore irregularities. The regular grids are splashed with expressive details and you use a very gestural facture, with thickly built-up surfaces.
JH: Agreed. I hadn’t painted in ten or twelve years prior to this project and I’d forgotten just how much painting seems to be running the show when you’re doing it. I feel less in control of certain things when I’m painting. It’s a little like trying to control your handwriting or the way you walk. The messy character of the paintings is a byproduct of the fun I have. In this show in particular, a lot of the paintings are painted and then repainted. Some of the work I made in the past required so much care and precision that it felt like there was a lot of telling myself No in the process. Now I figure if I want to color outside of the lines I’m allowed to. The project sets up rules and then allows me to break them. There is pleasure in having a structure, to make sense of the design of the painting, and then the freedom to be careless while making the structure visible. I also like all of the ways that process reminds me of my particular psychological state.
GPD: And psychology and specifically your own psychological state have always played a key role in your work, right ?
JH: My psychological state of course always informs how I’m working. What I am referring to specifically here, is how making rules only to break them, and taking pleasure in crossing boundaries, seems like a model of rebelliousness, both infantile and adolescent. The aesthetics of conceptual art has always been rather clean and it seems we associate intelligence with the ability to contain oneself within boundaries — rigor, as so many artists like to call it. I like the idea that there can be a kind of intelligence that gets messy. I like that my work points to a psychological state that allows for integration of both the rigorous and explosive, sloppy tendencies and a healthy play between conscious and unconscious impulses.
GPD: Your frames give your pantings a very object-like character though. Is that intended?
JH: My framer told me that some other artists he works with said I wasn’t a painter, but that I was making sculptures of paintings. I’m fine with that idea. I’ve also been able to use the frames as a way to connect the paintings a bit to the furniture projects I have been working on lately. If the paintings can feel like objects a bit and have a motif that connects them to the furniture, then you can feel your own presentness in space between them. I came to abstraction through a love of the way the work of artists like Bridget Riley and Fred Sandback made me feel acutely aware of my own body in space.The surfaces of the paintings, their quality of taking up space, the frames, the way the show is hung, and the furniture are all ways of connecting your whole body to the experience of looking.
(Excerpts from an interview with the artist)