In the Studio: Geoff Hippenstiel

Reverie Arts
Nov 18, 2014 7:00PM

Artist Geoff Hippenstiel (b. July 6, 1974) cultivates the ambiguities of abstract representation with his lushly painted canvases. Each is a presence to be reckoned with, a thing vibrant and almost alive in its physicality.Hippenstiel is drawn to that quality of a painting’s being, its sheer existence, and a powerful and dynamic application of oil and impasto give his works an urgent sense of materiality. But from all that musculature, something like a recognizable world tantalizes (and sometimes disturbs) the viewer.

Hippenstiel identifies with and draws inspiration from artists as diverse as Robert Ryman and Willem DeKooning, whose individual explorations concerning surface and tactility are akin to his own. However, he is perhaps more intent than these precursors on delving into assumptions about what constitutes a conventional painting, exploring variations in the nature of the paint itself. The artist’s use of spray enamel, metallic, and fluorescent paints alongside traditional oils is exceptional: a canvas dense with earthy greens or pale yellows is electrified with a single swipe of neon pink; in another, metallic gold or silver plays against thickly applied, buttery, and colorful elements, yielding a highly original eye popping effect.

As an abstractionist, Hippenstiel’s focus is also always on the question of how image is present in non-representational works of art. Much depends on how the viewer engages and identifies with the painting, and the artist brings this awareness of process into the works themselves. If an absolute abstraction is impossible,Hippenstiel actively embraces the challenge of creating a visual experience of something that is at once somehow familiar yet unrecognizable. Each painting thus represents a pact between artist and viewer in which intellectual deliberation, athletic gesture, and uncommon ­— even uncanny — combinations of texture and color deliver a whole that far outstrips the sum of its carefully meditated parts.

Reverie Arts