Nothing and Everything with Tim Hawkinson

Beth Fiore
Jan 29, 2013 11:55PM

 After viewing the fantastic Light and Space show now on view at Marc Straus, "Nothing and Everything" -- I had a chance to sit down and ask curator and newly appointed Director of the gallery, Tim Hawkinson a few questions on how the show came together. 

Using this statement as a point of departure, we spoke in depth about the greatness of this movement in art:

"A work and the space that contains it are in a dialectical relationship. We tend to forget that all works of art must be somewhere. Perhaps it’s because we experience art largely through reproductions in books."  - Carl Andre

BF:You have such an excellent show in the gallery right now " Nothing and Everything" I want to ask you all about it but first, can you tell me a little about your background and why you are attracted to these light and space artists?

TH:Thank you, I'm very happy to hear you enjoyed the exhibition. I feel lucky to have had exposure to these artists at various points in my academic and professional careers. 

I was able to study with Anne Wagner, and while I appreciated Minimal artworks before that time, her lectures really prompted me to consider the work in more depth. One of my first jobs in New York allowed me to work with Robert Barry and have long periods of time looking at, thinking about, and discussing his work from the 1960s (and since). There’s a monofilament sculpture by Barry in this current exhibition. I later spent a few years in Los Angeles working at a private gallery where my colleagues had a wealth of knowledge about the Southern California Light and Space artists. I tried to soak up as much as I could from them.

A major appeal for me to these artworks, both produced in New York and in California, is that despite their cold industrial appearance, their seeming remove from humanity, they directly address issues fundamental to daily life. For me they address the logistics of the body existing in the world, how we relate to architectural and natural structures, as well as the limits to the ways in which we are able to perceive them.

 BF:This kind of art's success is so contingent on perfection of installation, how did you deal with this in the hanging of your show? Also in larger sense do you think there is a geospecific element of  Southern California and the light and atmosphere there that influence these artists?

TH:We had two artists, and one official estate installation expert, in to help us. We tried to get the walls in pristine shape. We tried to give each piece as much breathing room as possible. 

While I do believe there is some degree of geospecificity wrapped up in the creation of these works, for both artists who were (and still are) working in New York or in California, I think the finished artworks are ultimately universal.

BF:A statement from the gallery about the show read  "these objects function as poems on the nature and physical world....X-rays of the seems of the universe" I think that is such a great analogy of these artists work, do you in fact have a poet that comes to mind when you curate a show like this?

TH:No particular poem or poet. Maybe the idea of short haikus, poems that are vague and direct at the same time. 

BF:The show has some great pieces from the founders of the movement and an excellent piece by emerging artist Jong Oh, how do you see the second generation expanding on these ideas of light and space? And can you tell me more about Jong Oh's work and his relationship with the gallery?

TH:Jong Oh's work itself is a demonstration for me of how younger artists can expanded on ideas and threads (pun intended) begun by older generations. Be it minimal sculpture, abstract painting, or photographic portraits,  at certain points even the most optimistic audience might feel like everything has been done already, until a novel voice introduces work showing new ideas or variations, and shines a massive spotlight on huge uncharted swaths of visual and conceptual territory still available for exploration.

I tend to think of it more as individuals working, as opposed to a generational mass moving things in a cohesive direction. Although, that’s how I see the first generation of Minimal artists as well, and that it’s only in hindsight that movement seems more unified.

Jong Oh is the only artist in this exhibition represented by our gallery. He finished graduate school not too long ago and had solo exhibitions at Art in General as well as here at the gallery in 2012. While working in a Governor's Island studio the last few months he has been experimenting with outdoor rope sculptures and related indoor installations in which photographs of the outdoor sculptures are integrated into delicate wood structures. 

He is serious and focused about his art, but also a really pleasant guy to work with.

Beth Fiore