Western Exhibitions is thrilled to present our second solo show with RICHARD HULL. His new series of paintings recombines the imagery of horses' tails and the Klein bottle from recent works into ecstatic abstract portraits resembling exploding flowers.
Since 2005, in paintings, drawings and prints, Richard Hull has been re-working a kidney-shaped form derived from a horse's tail. In his last show at Western Exhibitions in 2010 the tail/kidney was doubled, influenced by the concept of a Klein bottle, a non-orientable surface with no identifiable "inner" and "outer" sides. This allowed Hull to explore spatial relationships, both metaphorically and formally, between the geometric dualities of empty and full spaces. In these new paintings, he doubles and triples and quadruples the tail/kidney shapes; now resembling looping flower petal forms, using them as building blocks for a sort of portrait. The bulbous loops are accentuated by minute, repetitive, often concentric actions within the large masses.
Humid,earthy colors dominate, reinforcing the corporeal sensibility in the head-like images. Ruby red grapefruit swim with deep crimsons, dancing with fecund browns. Subtle bits of impasto clash with oily, smudgy swooshes that look almost like highly refined finger-painting. This particularly delicious effect is achieved by transparent oil paint wobbly traversing over beeswax, a sophisticated technique that gives the appearance of sweaty immediacy. His "heads" rest on angular props, something akin to furniture.
Hull views the images as stolen portraits, each with different personalities. The imagery is possibly borrowed from Velázquez's "Las Meninas" masterpiece from the 1600's. A reproduction of the famous Spanish painting sits on a stack of magazines in his studio and the artist admits that it may have subconsciously affected his color choices; the flowery bonnets and elaborate ruffles in the clothing may have found their way into the exuberant forms in Hull's canvases. Giuseppe Arcimboldo, the Italian painter from the 1500s is another unmistakable influence on Hull's current practice, as his portrait heads were composed by piling images of fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish and books.
Richard Hull's paintings, drawings and prints are in the collections of several museums including The Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Smithsonian Museum, Washington, D.C.; Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and The Smart Museum, Chicago. He has exhibited his work at The Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City; The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT; Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, OH; Portland Art Museum, OR; The Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH; Herron Gallery of Art, Indianapolis, IN; Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI; Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Evanston IL; and The Painting Center, New York, NY. He joined the legendary Phyllis Kind Gallery before graduating from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago in 1979 and had numerous shows in both her New York City and Chicago locations. Recent exhibitions include a solo show at Wake Forest University, a mini-survey at the Rockford Art Museum, and the group show, "Somebody Else's Dream" curated by John McKinnon at the Hyde Park Art Center. Hull recently interviewed legendary Chicago painters Jim Nutt and Gladys Nillson for BOMB Magazine and has an upcoming collaboration with jazz/improvised music master Ken Vandermark, a 1999 MacArthur Fellow, at the DePaul Museum of Art. Hull lives and works in Chicago.