Monday, June 02, 2014

Spark and Stubble

What: Spark and Stubble: A show of recent paintings by Tom Hill
When: Opening Reception: Friday, June 6, 2014, from 6:00-9:00 pm
(Exhibits runs through June 28, 2014)
Where: Hillyer Art Space
9 Hillyer Court NW Washington, DC 20008

Tom Hill on his work:
For me, making art has always been a balance between expression and communication. As a proud gay man in long-term recovery from addiction, I have spent considerable time learning about and educating others on the connections between addiction, sexuality, and oppression. I have done this in simultaneous roles as activist, community organizer, and artist. In recent years, I have used my art to examine my life as it has been lifted from a foundation of marginalization, self-contempt, and shame. This process of healing and liberation has led towards a raised consciousness regarding the harmful and often traumatic effects that sexism and homophobia have had on my life, as well as the lives of others. It is in this spirit that I make work that directly addresses these as life and death issues. The work has yielded tremendous rewards, despite the costs and consequences of revealing truths that ultimately create discomfort in those who have secured a great investment in lies. A compelling insistence on honesty and authenticity ultimately erodes forces that are designed to control and deaden our bodies, our lives, and our souls.

These paintings are infused with a long personal history of an evolving feminist and queer sensibility and contain references and influences from a diverse variety of cultural sources. These influences include dada and surrealism, pop art, propaganda and political art, pulp fiction illustration, roadway signage, psychedelic and punk rock graphics, muscle car detailing, and vintage physique magazines. Over time, I have developed a visual vocabulary, formal skills, and working methods that are closely aligned with my chosen subject matter. My love of bold and lurid colors is infused with the restless throb of a masculine sex drive. For me, these colors evoke carnival amusement rides, seaside motels, and the recklessness of a drug-induced young manhood. I layer surfaces with candy and metalflake glazes, iridescent overlays, and crystalline veneers. These form skins of sugary sweetness that barely conceal the meat and gristle underneath, embedded with the coarse grit of testosterone, the unmistakable tang of male sweat, and the potent urgency of semen. These images are lifted and altered from advertising and gay erotica, combined with words and symbols to suggest poetic yearnings, amorous quests, and off-color urges. Magnetically drawn to the spark and stubble of sullen youth and rough men, my interest remains tied to developing and defining a queer masculinity that is sturdy, tough, and unwavering, while exuding a spirit of tenderness, grace, and utter fabulousness