April 2 – May 9, 2015
Reception: Thursday, April 2, 6-8pm
Elizabeth Harris is pleased to present an exhibition of recent oil paintings by Julian Hatton. This is Julian Hatton’s 9th solo show at the gallery. The Gallery is located at 529 West 20th Street, 6th floor and is open Tuesday through Saturday 11-6 pm. There will be a reception for the artist on Thursday, April 2nd, from 6-8 pm.
In New Season, Julian Hatton’s title for his exhibition of recent work, the artist continues to extend the possibilities of abstract painting inspired by, but not imitative of, nature. Displaying an increasingly complex approach to surface, Hatton crafts an image of idiosyncratic forms and singular color. Formal and conceptual dimensions converge with new techniques and procedures that multiply allusions to internal and external worlds.
Hatton began his career almost 30 years ago painting surprisingly inventive landscapes en plein air in public parks around New York City. Now he is primarily a studio painter, and his subject is more the interior terrain of subjective perception, which he freely interprets in painted abstractions influenced by past and present experiences. The work resonates with a deep, varied, and often joyful response to nature, and, simply, with a sense of what it means to be alive.
New Season suggests a new development in Hatton’s oeuvre. In fact the title points to a shift in attitude, from one of constructive uncertainty to one of enthused exploration. The change is evident in the diverse treatment of surfaces, richer formal and chromatic relationships and the completion of a number of large-scale compositions. Yet Hatton’s underlying motivations remain related to earlier work. He still finds meaning in his connection to nature, and channels that affinity through sensibility, imagination, resourcefulness and personality toward its abstract materialization.
In most of the paintings, the search for resolution becomes an end in itself, and process reveals substance. Hatton deploys a bevy of techniques: glaze applied over colored glaze; paint vigorously brushed or delicately stroked; layers scraped on and scraped off with palette and putty knives; surfaces sanded, slathered, stained and smeared. Paint and medium weave thick and thin together, then apart; brush mark striations create and deny form and movement. The gestural looseness in some paintings conveys an aura of vitality and freshness, while disguising a balancing act between figuration and abstraction, between quick and painstaking execution.
Each painting is a hybrid and undergoes radical transformation during its genesis. Visual cues that conjure elements of landscape join with contradictory nonfigurative abstractions. The simple initial idea quickly succumbs to the complexity of material trial and error, schema and modification. Opaque versus transparent layers compete for existence in a place between becoming and dissolving, clarity and ambiguity, solidity and translucency.
Hatton continues to make good use of his extraordinary color sense, orchestrating color relationships to structure composition. Elongated verticals of delicately muted or accentuated color vie for attention while defining formal hierarchies. Colored blobs and polygonal shapes may summon the memory of familiar natural forms, but are chromatically reinvented to recall or dispel the illusion of space. Strong hues and tonal contrast help establish order and rhythm amid the tumultuous mark making.
An air of indomitable mutability pervades many of these paintings. The studio choreography of painting, looking, changing and evolving, a performative aspect of their creation, is as evident in the work as in the artist; a sense of continuing energetic searching feels inevitable.
There are no obvious historical references to help define Hatton’s current paintings. Instead one may find a quiet debt to Richard Diebenkorn, Henri Matisse, and Arthur Dove.
“Process Histories” of many of these and other Hatton paintings are viewable on Hatton’s Facebook page. Please send Julian Hatton a friend request with reference to this exhibition.
Julian Hatton’s work is in numerous public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has received awards from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Pollock Krasner Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation of the Arts. Teaching experience includes Adjunct Professor, Rhode Island School of Design, Visiting Artist at Dartmouth, Swarthmore and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He studied art history and graduated from Harvard College in 1979. The artist lives and works in New York City and upstate New York.
For further information contact Miles Manning at 212 463-9666.