september 8 - october 8, 2017
Lyles & King is pleased to present Novel Gazers, an exhibition of new paintings by American artist Chris Hood. This exhibition is Hood’s second with the gallery, and the body of work further develops the imagery and themes of information, pathos, and virtuality in contemporary visual culture that have been his ongoing subject matter.
Using staining and layering techniques, Hood creates surface-scapes of languid color and swirls of over-processed image. Botanical and floral motifs suggest a realm where one can lose himself, like Henri Rousseau’s jungle or the landscapes of Charles Burchfield, but Hood’s hyper, cross-directional imagery evokes the digital and screen-mediated world. Brushstrokes, translated by the canvas, become corrupted images of brushstrokes, and surface becomes a simulation of painting. In Hood’s immersive surfaces, we enter a virtual space, where entropy is held in stasis.
In this plasmatic space, Hood locates remnants from the modern cultural vernacular, or as he says, artifacts of looking, retrieved from sources like the internet, gifs, stickers, vintage patches, and advertisements. These icons blip, dissolve, float, and fracture, serving as pegs for interpretation. Some artifacts, such as candles and eyes that reference light and looking, are suggestive, but others are nonsensical; what matters most is how they coalesce with Hood’s painterly marks and transmitted images to produce meaning. Through further mark making, for example, repeating on the surface an element transmitted through the canvas, Hood increases the friction and collision we experience in the painting as well.
Amid this abundance of visual data, Hood’s paintings ask, what does it mean to behold this information at this time? The question is left open. Hood’s images are not didactic: meaning is construed through subjective looking; the painting is simply a painting. Nonetheless, emotional recognition tinges Hood’s permeations of color and the expression of his iconography, from a blissful embrace and the faraway gaze of a youth to a sighing urn and the sentimental daydream of a beach. If a flurry of information can disorient in an aesthetic space, what sense can we make of the incoherent blizzard beyond? Hood’s paintings channel empathy for the viewer’s assignment and suggest a view of visual culture enriched with humor and poignant emotion.
Chris Hood (b. 1984, Atlanta, GA) received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions include Octopi Blush, MIER Gallery, Los Angeles; Bad Skin, Galerie Bernard Ceysson, Paris; Slow Drag in Margaritaville, Lyles & King, New York; and Tony Clifton Eats for Free, Et al., San Francisco. Group exhibitions include Venus Over Los Angeles and CANADA, New York, among others.