We have the pleasure of presenting STUMBLE, Carl Hammoud’s fifth solo exhibition at the Gallery. The exhibition comprises a group of paintings, all of which revisit a motif from Carl Hammoud’s oeuvre – the pile of chairs in his painting The Protest from 2013.
The idea of basing the exhibition on The Protest came up in the summer of 2016, when it was on loan for a feature film shoot. The set designer ordered a real-life version of the painting’s subject matter to be built, which Hammoud then used as a model when making the exhibition.
The dramatic pile of chairs is featured in all the paintings in the exhibition. Most of them depict the centre of the pile, others are sections from its upper or lower parts. By repeating the subject in painting after painting, Hammoud seeks to reduce both the symbolism and the narrative structure with which his previous work are often associated. The repetition is intended to interweave the separate works and form a sort of presumption, where we take what we see for granted, thus rendering the motif invisible – much like a printed pattern, where we don’t really notice the corresponding or repeated parts.
Hammoud seeks to shift focus from an allegorical interpretation to the significance of the physical action. That is, repeating a motif over and over again, to see what this action can generate. One way of looking at it is as a candid account of the artistic conflict between process and production, which, in turn, raises questions about the uniqueness of painting. Lingering on the same subject could, in a contemporary context, be an act of resistance, illustrating the unfashionably slow and repetitive nature of painting. And yet, herein lies a paradox, since duplication in itself is one way of defining mass production.
The process revolves around a form of hermeneutic explorations, i.e, the interpretation of something, but Hammoud’s foremost concern are the problems themselves, and not the answers. Behind the ostensibly simple, there is often a weave of interlinked and interdependent thoughts.
In this exhibition, we see a motif whose original meaning has been altered by a course of events, colouring the image and imbuing it with new contents. Through the course of the work, the image has obtained further dimensions. Together these circumstances have served as a sort of associative autopoiesis – i.e., something that reproduces itself through its own components.
- Hammoud originally came across a photo of the motif in a context where it had been used to illustrate a political situation.
- He used it as a starting point for a painting that was included in an exhibition.
- The painting was lent to a film team for a movie scene.
- The movie’s set designer built a real-life copy of the pile of chairs in the painting.
- Hammoud in turn took photographs of the built copy, on which he then based STUMBLE.
A chain of events that resembles the motif itself – a repetition of chairs. A motif that is repeated in all the exhibition's paintings. Remove one chair, and the whole pile collapses; without one event, the end result would be completely different.
In Hammoud’s oeuvre, thoughts are often combined with philosophical questions and allusions from a spectrum of cultural manifestations. The intricate source references also incorporate a self-critical rhetoric that is best described by Katherine Craster’s poem The Centipede’s Dilemma from 1871, a rhyme that has incessantly reverberated in the studio throughout the work on this exhibition:
A centipede was happy – quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, “Pray, which leg moves after which?”
This raised her doubts to such a pitch,
She fell exhausted in the ditch
Not knowing how to run.
Opening Reception March 25, 12–4 pm!
Carl Hammoud (b.1976) lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden. He has exhibited in galleries and museums in Europe, Asia and USA. Selected Solo Exhibitions: Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, Texas, USA (2016, 2014, 2013), Eskilstuna Art Museum (2015), Galleri Magnus Karlsson, Stockholm (2013, 2009, 2007, 2005), Baton Gallery, Seoul, South Korea, two-person-show together with Jens Fänge (2012), Frieze Art Fair, London (2011), Kalmar Art Museum (2011), Malmö Art Museum (2010), Gothenburg Museum of Art (2010), Bellwether Gallery, New York, USA (2007). He has participated in group exhibitions at Magasin III Museum & Foundation for Contemporary Art (2014, 2010), Eskilstuna Art Museum (2015, 2010), Hangaram Art Museum, Seoul (2015), County Museum of Gävleborg (2015), Hellvi Kännungs, Gotland (2015), Borås Museum of Arts (2009) and Göteborgs Konsthall (2008). In 2012 he received Åke Andrén Foundation Art Scholarship. He is represented in the collections of Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Magasin III Museum & Foundation for Contemporary Art, Gothenburg Museum of Art and the British Museum, London.