From afar, the etchings of Berlin-based artist Volker Hüller resemble fantastic maps, patchworks of angular shapes pieced together in rectangular tapestries of sinewy lines and matrices of texture. A closer look, surprisingly, reveals figuration: human forms are intertwined and overlapping in a confusing cacophony of faces, fingers, and anatomical curves. Seemingly random cross sections are injected with color and incised with patterning, and every so often a pointy nose, a wisp of hair, or a shoe surfaces on the picture plane. Hüller’s inordinate situations and eccentric cast of characters hearken back to the psychological quality of portraits by Egon Schiele, while proffering a fresh taste of Surrealism. A pervading darkness reigns, achieved through allusions to transgressive activity, a solemn palette, and visages of discontent, drawing the viewer in, in search of resolution to the enigmatic narrative at hand. A new, monumental work of this kind, appropriately titled Lost in the stars, is the centerpiece of Timothy Taylor Gallery’s Frieze New York presentation.
A skillful handling of interlocking forms creep into the breadth of Hüller’s works, which range from monochromatic painting to collaged canvases to mixed media assemblages of fur, leather, and metal. For large-scale etchings such as this one, which is unique, the artist adds watercolor and shellac by hand after printing, carefully controlling which details warrant the viewer’s eye, or provoking reactions through color, be it a repulsive yellow finger or an eroticized red fingernail. Couched among conceptually driven works by American artist Jessica Jackson Hutchins, and glossy oils by YBA Richard Patterson, Lost in the stars is aptly presented to the international art world at Frieze New York, where without question, it will be found.
On view at Timothy Taylor Gallery, Frieze New York, Main, Booth C33, May 9th–12th, 2014.