Elliott Hundley is an exceptionally free artist possessed of a keen sensitivity to material reality and the expressive potential of matter. His expansive personal lexicon draws upon numerous sources, notably classical mythology, medieval sculpture, photography, performance and theater, and is typically manifest in constructions of spectacular intricacy and conceptual complexity. Hundley’s work often plays with degrees of legibility and representation yet never completely dissolves into abstraction. The depth and complexity of his interests demands such a wide-ranging practice, concerned as he is with the breadth of art history and the socio-political implications of contemporary art making.
The fluidity and flexibility of Hundley’s practice has generated an excitingly new body of work for the artist’s exhibition at VeneKlasen/Werner. The exhibition is immediately striking for its apparent reduction of means and presentation, comprising as it does almost entirely painting. Painting has been an important element in Hundley’s practice for several years; his present focus on the medium as the primary means of expression allows closer examination of specific concerns and becomes a kind of reflection on the themes Hundley has explored throughout his career. Paring down to the simple essentials of paint on a two-dimensional ground, Hundley extends his intense exploration of the possibilities of sculptural form and space with renewed enthusiasm, examining the notions of depiction and representation, figuration and abstraction, which have long formed the basis of his interests.
Hundley’s new works take as their subject sculptural representation. Several canvases translate classical imagery, including a medieval sculpture of the resurrection and Rodin’s Gates of Hell, the latter being an important conceptual and emotional touchstone for the artist. Paintings depicting a Chinese terracotta figure and Hundley’s own clay models nod to still-life genre painting. This investigation extends to a group of related bronze sculptures, modestly scaled and ostensibly abstract, which echo the images and gestures of the paintings and similarly reflect on the relationship between still-life and monument and the activation of form. Hundley’s desire for animation, a constant throughout his oeuvre, is realized here with little of the grandeur or fanfare present in prior installations, allowing the exhibition to function as a quietly powerful meditation on historical and narrative time and our experience of permanence and decay.
Elliott Hundley was born in 1975 and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. He has exhibited his work throughout the United States and in Europe. In 2011 Hundley presented The Bacchae, a major solo exhibition originating at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, and which traveled to the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, the following year. Works by Hundley are found in several prominent public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Broad Foundation, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas; and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humblebaek, Denmark.
Elliott Hundley opens with a reception for the artist on Friday, 1 May from 18:00 to 21:00 and is on view through 6 June 2015. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11AM to 6PM. For more information please call the gallery at +49 30 8161 60418, write to email@example.com or visit vwberlin.com.