Imagined Objects: Inside the Work of Carl Hammoud

In the works of Swedish artist Carl Hammoud, the eye is not to be trusted. A new show of the artist’s work, “The Arrangement of Separate Elements,” at Lora Reynolds Gallery features a number of his  new drawings, paintings, and watercolors, which represent the everyday, in spare compositions, muted colors, and with a keen awareness of the power of association. Hammoud’s works are carefully constructed from glossy magazine advertisements and the artist’s own photographs, and often portray common objects we might not otherwise notice, like a pair of glasses or a stack of hats. The end result is a well-rendered image; a viewer cannot detect the various sources from which it was formed. 

His drawing Five Story Building (2014), is an example of the way he melds images and ideas, drawing from a mix of styles and references. The drawing clearly represents a pile of books, stacked haphazardly, however, as the title suggests, there’s an architectural quality to the drawing, with drafting lines and clean sharp edges, and upon close inspection, the bottom book has a small set of doors, transforming the image into a building shaped like giant books, sitting soundly upon a sidewalk. Sails (2014), is a tightly cropped painting featuring the upper thigh of two slender female legs that are also enshrouded by a lacy black skirt. It looks as though the photo could be suggestive of a lingerie ad, yet the title makes us question the intentions behind the image, and we begin to search the soft folds of the skirt for the sails of a boat. 

The drawing of a pair of glasses, Velocipede (2014), along with the show’s title,might be taken as a hint to the viewer to carefully consider the works in the exhibition, as well as how the mind constructs and labels the things that it sees, whether or not the labels are accurate. Hammoud is illuminating the ways in which boundaries can be blurred—be they between art and fashion or any number of contemporary genres. 

Haniya Rae

Carl Hammoud: The Arrangement of Separate Elements” is on view at Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, Nov. 20, 2014–Jan. 17, 2015. 

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