Carl Hammer Gallery is honored to once again provide a stage for the newest installment of CJ Pyle's obsessive, imagistic, portrait drawings. Stretching the boundaries of his inimitable, self-defined "woven knot drawing technique", the artist's range of exploration, both in form and content, seems to get even more to the heart of a meaningful and universal consideration of what it is to be Human. A key element in that consideration is Pyle's recognition of society's preoccupation with making judgments about people based on outward, physical appearance, coupled, as well, with its misunderstanding of the concept of beauty itself. His is not a portrayal which defines the canons of beauty found in popular culture's use of the term, nor does it extoll the glibness of its oracles.
Instead, the singularity of identity in each of Pyle's drawings takes us to a very different place. On the surface, his cartoon-like images seem anything but beautiful. Humor and playfulness are a frequent first public reaction. But his subjects do not necessarily exist to simply entertain. With their epidermis stripped away, turned inside out, we behold visages of potentially horrific proportions. The artist lays bare the countenance of each, and we are left with textured faces of sinew, muscle and bone. (An interesting parallel, maybe sub-conscious decision Pyle makes is in choosing only to use the inside of the LP albums and book covers on which to execute his art, never the outside.) Though not as dark nor as grotesque as Francis Bacon, Frederick Sommer or Joel Peter Witkin, Pyle's images are eerily compelling and provoking. And the wizardry of the artist's illusionary twisted rope-like pen and pencil strokes, employing the simplest nuanced effect of facial gesture or expression, do just what we do not expect of them. We find a way to really "see" their Humanity. Perhaps we may be inclined as well to "see ourselves", as we wouldn't normally.