Friday, April 1, 2011

Robert Hardgrave / Fetherston Gallery


Ballard, 2010 by Robert Hardgrave (image via)
24" x 24", Acrylic on linen

I've said it before, but I think that Robert Hardgrave is making some of the most interesting paintings in the Northwest. In fact, I'd say they're downright visionary. His work is always recognizably Robert but each year he pushes out farther and farther into new forms and directions.
"Cultural motifs from around the world have inspired me for quite some time now. I’m interested in marks that are made on baskets, textiles, and vessels, and I utilize them as starting points when I paint. Most recently, I’ve been drawn to those marks, but also to the objects on which they are painted. This trajectory of thought has had enormous implications for me. I wonder how I can take this idea of the “object” in its sculptural form and present it as a painting. Can I present these objects as vessels for ideas? Can I take all that I see around me in the world and present it as something hopeful? Can I take my failures, the destroyed relics of my new transformative studio practice, and create triumphs of both form and spirit?" - Robert Hardgrave
Tonight, he'll be showing new work at Fetherston Gallery. The reception is on the early side (5-7pm), so don't show up late and miss it.

17 comments:

Julia said...

Robert Hardgrave’s works are a mix between the pop surrealist spirit of Peter Saul, and the tactile collage construction of Rauschenberg. “Ballard” evokes the chaotic texture of the imagination through nearly recognizable imagery and provocative movement and color. Hardgrave’s iconography draws from street art, an influence from pop culture prevailing in art since the 80’s - but he brings a contemporary flair to this sensationally satisfying piece.
sucah23

Kyle said...
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Sucah19 said...

Hardgrave's work gives a nod of approval to the lowbrow pop-surrealist movement with a mixture of warped-animation like that found by Basil Wolverton. "Ballard" seems to encompass the chaos of today's modern society and view it through an optimistic perspective. This is achieved by a pastel pallet with shapes and figures that blend and morph into each other, creating a psychedelic effect. I love the fact that Hardgrave plays on unconventional surfaces, enhancing the idea and further questioning if one can take what they see within "the world and present it as something hopeful". "Ballard" takes the hectic, unruly world we experience everyday and literally morphs it into a tolerable, playful visionary.

Courtney said...
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Courtney said...

This work by Robert Hardgrave is somewhat reminiscent of Kandinsky’s “In Gray (Im Grau)” oil painting, especially with the mention of form and spirit, but with a twist of street art-style that became a part of the U.S.’s pop culture in the 1980s. Like combining Kandinsky with Lennard Schuurmans. Robert Hardgrave's "Ballard" consists of mostly recognizable yet unnamable forms, shapes, and patterns mimicking the style of urban street art but putting it into the form of a painting. Personally, it reads to me as street art forms put onto a canvas (or linen, in this case) rather than on the street which brings an interesting juxtaposition since street art was supposed to be somewhat “anti-art” while the act of painting, especially on a canvas, is a traditional technique of art. Modern Kandinsky if he was into street art, I can dig it.

-sucah13

Rachael said...
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Rachael said...

I am surprised by how much I disagree with Sucah23. I don't find his work reminiscent of Robert Rauschenberg in the least. His use of acrylic paint and linen as canvas is hardly comparable to techniques inclusive of assemblage and combine painting (unless you are specifically referencing Hardgrave's inclusion of the ordinary and everyday object as his ultimate subject). However, I do find his work very interesting and time transcendent. Inspired by the "marks" on "baskets, textiles, and vessels", his art is able to bring to light ideas concerning the very first pieces of art that were ever created (at which point they may have been simply items of domestic consumption). By utilizing these pieces as inspiration he appears to me to be more closely associated with Abstract Expressionism - not that I think he is necessarily letting his art use him as a vehicle for the sublime. I do think (especially in reference to his questioning his ability to make his work a contributer of hope) that he is allowing his art to connect to portions of previous cultures which renders an element of ultimate universal inclusivity. Yet, on that note, I am not sure that I am able to relate his work to Abstract Expressionism as his wanting to take his "objects" and not entirely remove them from their sculptural restraints would have confounded and irritated Clement Greenberg (who thought that painting and sculpture should have been removed from one another at all costs).

Sucah21

MouMou said...
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Sucah17 said...

In "Ballard" Robert Hardgrave manages to reflect the playfulness of a Keith Haring whilst displaying the infiniteness similar to Robert Williams' "In the Land of Retinal Delights". Though not seemingly intuitive, Hardgrave's work depicts an industrialized system of urban legislature; maintaining a pleasing-to-look-at strokes of color and fluidity while contrastingly exposing a disheartening reality of the effects of a city environment (e.g. pollution). Hardgrave distinguishes content vs. aesthetics with long continuous strokes of neon-like colors that ultimately say (with the help of the title), "This is the city of Ballard". The question I bring-in mind with my former thoughts-is the one of content vs. visual representation: In other words, what does the union of painting style and content have to do with what language this piece speaks? And how much of the artist's voice is heard from that? The complexity of the piece involves a look at observing the paintings elements, but also the "reading between the lines" aspect; because from this the viewer (myself, for example) would not simply pass this piece and move on (which I most likely would if I saw this in a gallery) but dive deeper for the sake of something a bit more worthwhile-which I believe, is well deserved for this work.

Maddie said...

In the description of his own work, Robert Hardgrave places himself somewhere between the sublime, iconographic aspirations of the Abstract Expressionists or Wassily Kandinski, the object-inspired artists such as Jasper Johns, and even contemporary street art. Using either a wide range highly chromatic colors or simple black and white tones, Hardgrave's work is optically complex with its tight yet expressive gesture and embedded baskets, textiles, and vessels from which he draws his imagery. When I look at Hardgrave's work, I react most strongly to his wide range of strokes and gestures; from his blurred spray paint recreations to his tight, graphic lines which give high levels of energy both to the work and to me as a viewer. Overall, Hardgrave's work is fascinating in its incorporation of ideals and techniques from the past and as well as contemporary art practices.
Sucah22

MegEffect said...

Like most of my fellow Sucahs, I would say that Hardgrave recalls elements of Abstract Expressionism, but clearly with the intension of referencing culture far removed from Pop Culture of the present. Specifically, as stated by the artist, this work is contemporary yet contains elements of "cultural motifs from around the world." This is certainly evident in "Ballard," given the bright array of colors and patterns nearly textile in nature. Personally, I find the piece innovative by attempting to depict 3D objects with a 2D medium while inspiring a global theme outside of solely our modern culture. Indeed, as another Sucah said, this piece, to me, tries to speak to a more universal audience.

-Sucah18

Miriam said...

"Ballard" reminds me more of graffiti than anything else. Sure it's abstract and reminiscent of ab-ex, as well as other styles but the movement in the pieces and natural flow of the colors and lines would translate really well onto a wall. The intertwining, curving colors move and twist into shapes like intestines.
-sucah14

n. boudreau said...
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n. boudreau said...
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n. boudreau said...
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Sucah20 said...

Hardgrave's works is sincerely spiritual, in an arguably alternative manner than works of Russian theorist and painter Wassily Kandinsky. Kandisnky's notion of spirituality was receptive (for the viewer, the painter)-- the colours themselves yield a purely transcendent experience of an ethereal nature that resonates throughout the human soul. Hardgrave's work could surely be received by a similar means, but his statements allude to a less universal notion of spirituality. Concerning his personal experiences with disease and recovery, the spiritual nature of his work is a reflection upon his understanding of "reincarnation and the richness of life beyond death", addressing the human spirit as an entity within itself. If anything, this work reminds me of the Darren Aronofsky film "The Fountain" (sure it's not a traditional work of visual art, but it touches on similar themes). Hardgrave's conception of the cyclical nature of spirituality is echoed through the film in the themes of transcendent mortality in an unfamiliar realm.

Tori said...

Robert Hardgrave's work alludes to/ draws from surrealism and abstract expressionism. It is as if time built upon itself in this painting, growing in layers of color and texture of shading. Each new layer adds to the imagination of what this painting can be. It forces the viewers eyes to move with its bizarre, yet whimsical shape.Overall "Ballard" is visually complex and combines forms of recognizable shapes with abstract shapes.

Sucah 12