One of the Surrealists, probably André Breton, declared that everything is connected by invisible lines, a dictum that we ubercapitalist extraction-miners might do well to reaffirm as disaster stalks the planet. Many contemporary artists are making the case for sociopolitical engagement—and implying that art should be judged by its politics. The opposite point of view holds that art is pure expression, and should be judged only in its visual merits. Neither argument seems indisputable, yet much art explores this tension between style and content, the visual and the implied verbal, to great effect.
The paintings and drawings of Anthony Kyle Hall in Tensions are abstract expressionist in general affect, with calligraphy and neuromuscular shapes/gestures set atop white grounds, recalling Frans Kline, Adolph Gottlieb and others, including the graffiti-influenced expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat. But Hall includes little fragments of reality, as the Cubists occasionally did: drawn renderings of objects and persons, and even strips of paper bearing text: scholarly footnotes, clipped memoranda, or cookie fortunes. We view the compositions holistically, but the fragments assert themselves, causing a push-pull between modes of perception and interpretation.
At the center of my work is documenting my personal narratives in response to current cultural and social climates. Through exploring the gap between existing and perceived spaces of existence, reality vs. channels of distorted information - the goal is to highlight substance in the human experience at large. Themes and subject matter dictate the visual aesthetics and materials used, and over time this is to be the vehicle for visual ideas to deepen and evolve.
Each work is thus a constellation or miniature world of his concerns and interests, including jazz and improvisation, and painterly impulses and improvisations. Three 36-inch square paintings constitute a kind of triptych. “Preservation,” a mixed-media collage, is a collection of disparate sketches and painted shapes, some recognizable, like a black luchador (?) mask, with others abstract, aligned on two sides of a vertical black line, probably, an inch thick; we ten to interpret this as the sketches a painter would have on his studio wall—random, but visually held together by Hall’s eye for balance and contrast: preserved in a painting. “Embrace (Moonlight)” depicts a cluster of boldly drawn black and white circles, probably traced around a receptacle; their spatial interaction, supplemented by the smudged areas where they are concentrated, lends the abstract image drama and density; and is that a drawing table depicted on the far right? “Three Tensions” repeats the circular cluster motif, with the spheres here contained by two slim diagonal lines. “Room” preserves the mask motif (possibly a surrogate for the artist and/or viewer), with colored geometric bars and free-form shapes to depict the artist’s state of consciousness, his mental furniture. In “I Repeat," “Wild” and “Uncharted Overhaul,”Hall adds cutout text, word by word, in the style of aleatory Surrealist word games, and William Burroughs’ cut-up technique, to harness chance: e.g.,
growth is free and “The price of delay is steep.
Everything may be connected only tenuously in real life, but disparate things can be brought together and decisively connected in art through intuition and application.
Avenue 12 Gallery, 1101 Lake Street, San Francisco CA 94118 Tel (415) 750-9955
ANTHONY KYLE HALL: Tensions
Avenue 12 Gallery, San Francisco