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Richard Hull at Western Exhibitions

by Robin Dluzen

Richard Hull at Western Exhibitions

Western Exhibitions is hosting its first solo exhibition of Chicago-based artist, Richard Hull’s bold, complex abstractions. A combination of large and small paintings, and works on paper, Hull’s works have some subtle edgy attitude, but also maturity and candor indicative of a dedicated, knowledgeable artist.

Hull’s organic, radiating forms are often described as being “biomorphic…horse[s’] tail[s],” “Möbius strip[s]” or “Klein bottle[s],” drawing attention to themes of boundaries and limitations in a large sense, as well as within a painting context. Whether the compositions are radiating to the edge and responding, bending to that boundary of the stretcher, or whether they exist in some relatively open pictorial space, just grazing the edge, viewers are brought right to the rectangle’s boundaries, and back into the painting in a never-ending cycle.

Richard Hull

And within the forms, the lines employed to indicate the radiation fragment the shapes into smaller cells which are filled with minutia, again reinforcing the notion that the paintings, like Klein bottles, are endlessly containing themselves. Though Hull’s paintings use boundaries as a part of the content, the momentum of the radial waves, the contrast of black and white, the saturation of the colors, and the continuity of the compositions defy limitation with energy that reverberates.

Richard Hull at Western Exhibitions

It is easy for artists, especially abstract painters, to use a dialogue exclusive to their genre, or even more narrowly to create one of their own, as Hull does here. Often this practice privileges prior knowledge and excludes those viewers who are out of the loop. However, Hull’s works both engage with a self-referential dialogue (delightful to those in the know) and a universal, experiential dialogue, attributing to a dual, head-to-head read generating tension and a range of possible interpretations.

Reiterating the duality and complexity in his practice, Hull’s treatment of lines in the oil and wax on linen paintings reference drawing, even doodling, in their compulsive detail and spontaneity, while his treatment of the works on paper (especially the charcoal drawing and the crayon works) somehow reaches toward painting, with surfaces that are tactile and physical. Evident in this exhibition is a graphic aesthetic reminiscent of a punk, or maybe a comic book mentality (which has a Chicago-y flavor embraced by Western Exhibitions); however, the works are merely reminiscent of an adolescent attitude, as if they’ve grown out of whatever it was, retaining the conviction, but losing the angst.

This exhibition is on display March 26 – May 1, 2010 at Western Exhibitions, 119 North Peoria Street, Suite 2A, Chicago. Gallery Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 11 am – 6 pm. www.westernexhibitions.com