Foxy Production presents London-based artist GABRIEL HARTLEY’s inaugural New York solo exhibition. Hartley’s paintings and sculptures combine early modernism’s vitality and rawness with elegant configurations of marks, forms and colors that appear both timeworn and fresh. His work engages with Futurism, Expressionism, and Primitivism’s interests in universality and the expansion of the vocabulary of painting and sculpture, as it looks in new ways at abstraction and representation. Within his works he builds systems of brushstrokes and colors – alive with movement and light – that always seem on the verge of either evolving or dissolving.
Hartley presents large-scale oil paintings, smaller oil and spray paintings, and sculptures made from paper and resin. His large paintings have bold linear brushstrokes and distinct color patterns that recall early modernism’s plays with abstraction and perspective. They have an almost digital, photographic quality to their multiple and shifting focuses and depths of field. Their spatial effects – generated through a mix of gloss and matte paint and by burning their surfaces – produce both a flatness and an almost sculptural multi-dimensionality within the same work. Their shapes never quite gel into outright figuration; yet, the movement within their structures often has a sensuous dance-like quality that is energized by intimations of Primitivist human forms.
Hartley’s smaller paintings have a Turneresque diffuseness that subtlety draws the viewer into their fields of oil and spraypaint. This is balanced by sharp marks and strokes, and a textured paint surface that give them a cratered, scratched appearance. The paintings’ contrasts between their delicate gradations of color within their restrained palettes of stony blues, grays, and golds, and their rough-hewn, crusty finishes produce a palpable sense of tension.
Hartley’s sculptures have at times eroded, metallic, and rusty appearances that belie their paper, resin, and pigment composition. They can seem like unruly Boccioni sculptures that have been left to the ravages of time or that have succumbed to a languid sensuality. Mould, with its intricate crossing lines and frostings of aqua and cream pigment, recalls both an eroding Futurist machine and an evolving organic creature. Peak with its sheen of slate powder resembles at once Chamberlain’s crushed metal forms and a large being that is materializing before our eyes.
Installation photography by Mark Woods.