Dawn of a new day.
4.6.17 – 5.13.17
5th Amalgamation, acrylic on canvas, 2017, 60 x 70in | 152 x 178cm
Painting is no darling of the art world, and hasn’t been for a long while. Installations, sculptures, multimedia and digital works continue to be the not-so-new zeitgeist. Painting as a medium has certain constraints heralded by the advent of photography and exacerbated by the expansion of the definition of “high art.” Yet that is where Gregory Hayes’s Amalgamation series goes against the tide.
First there’s the unique and fascinating drip technique, a battle between the paint’s own properties and the artist’s will. You may find yourself asking, “How did he do that?” The answer is through a special artistic vision combined with a lot of pre-planning, experimentation, and an ultimate acceptance that the final result cannot be completely controlled, though it can be adjusted by a strategic dripping of color here, or maybe there. Then there’s the result, a colorful sea of hypnotic swirls, each one flowing into the other, yet still fighting to maintain its own identity.
The Amalgamation series is a move away from the grid-contained structured chaos that Hayes explored in his Primary Array and Color Array series into a disorderly arrangement, one that finds balance within itself and not through any premeditated boundaries. In essence, the framework provided by the grid for each individual drop in his earlier works was abandoned in an attempt to give the paint more freedom, therefore increasing the challenge of controlling the outcome. There is no exact formula for creating these pieces, rendering the final result even more impressive. The random solitary drops combine to create a complete stand-alone structure, partly by accident, partly by intention.
Though clearly influenced by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Tara Donovan, Hayes’s Amalgamation paintings also remind the viewer of Monet’s Impressionist hues – the way one color seamlessly dissolves into another – and Seurat’s pointillism – the individual insignificant dots that create a magnificent whole. The beauty in the Amalgamation paintings, however, is that each individual drop is as mesmerizing as the whole. This is the primary feature that draws one in; you can never gaze enough to satisfy the eye. There is no beginning or end to the paintings; you cannot tell where each work started or where its last drop landed.
Detail: 5th Amalgamation, acrylic on canvas, 2017, 60 x 70in | 152 x 178cm
The Amalgamation series poses the question, wittingly or unwittingly, what is “wall art”? There is no question that the paintings are attractive, a feature many painters fear as a curse of the banal. But these are not passive pieces of wall art. Their aesthetic value is misleading as the paintings speak their own mysterious language, creating an Alice in Wonderland-like rabbit-hole for the imagination. They are meditative, soothing, but equally powerful in their dynamism and vibrancy.
The paintings, in their alluring way, tackle universal themes of control versus submission, the power of the aesthetic, and the boundary between choice and chance. They make the viewer think before she is even aware of being sucked into the paintings’ seductive vortex. These paintings welcome your senses to the overwhelmingly captivating, complex world of color, structure and vision.
The viewer should be aware that the artist’s process is not completely random. Hayes’s choice of colors is carefully thought out, as is their spacing. But you never know exactly how each drop will land. You cannot predict the result of an accidental quiver of the artist’s normally steady hand. In so many ways, then, the Amalgamation paintings reflect their creator’s own character. For even in their wildness, there is harmony and in their serendipity, there is a deliberate plan.
Keep dripping, Gregory Hayes.
M.A. Art History
CUNY, Brooklyn College
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