Patrick Heide Contemporary Art is delighted to present the second solo exhibition of Australian artist Alex Hamilton with a fantastic new series of photocopy drawings and a selection of his sketchbook drawings.
The main focus of “Empty and Invisible” will be 4 photocopy drawings from Hamilton’s newest series Fourth Plinth which shows the resin sculpture by Rachel Whiteread of the 4th plinth at Trafalgar Square in 2002. The sculpture depicts an empty space and Hamilton, ironically, questions its existence. An invisible space and by degrees its surrounding vanish and are replaced by a tracery of bizarre variants.
In his usual manner Hamilton reworks a photocopied image by rubbing out parts, adding new forms and structures before rephotocopying and repeating the erasing and redrawing process. The result is an oddly objectified and sometimes totally alienated version of the original motif. In version No 1 of the Fourth Plinthseries, for example, 2nd generation modernist architectural structures appear in the background and the plinth is extended beyond reason. In versions 2 & 3 the original outlay of the square disappears completely and attention is shifted to meaningless urban elements such as a traffic light.
A similar process takes place in Hamiltons wave drawings series: in this case his interest is not altering the reality, but changing its perception by adding a new layer. An image of a moving water surface is changed to a beautiful yet complex landscape, which results in a multi-layered optical illusion that keeps our mind wondering and reinterpreting.
Much more intimate and shown for the first time ever are Hamilton’s sketchbook drawings. Being a source to many of his larger drawings they depict non-places as well: industrial backdrops, suburban wastelands still under construction, re-designated modernism or the lonely outskirts of cities. Pipes are connecting different parts of industrial facilities, wastewater and chemical liquids run beneath them and are poured into unidentified reservoirs. Meticulously detailed drawings yet wonderfully weird, they reveal the fascinating nature of Hamilton’s imagination.
Alex Hamilton’s drawings are messages from a singular mind. His compositions shift between real-life architecture and futuristic utopia, they move from familiar form and urban detail to the language of signs and visual illusion. Perspectives are created and abolished, fore- and background detach and merge.
The space or at least our perception of it becomes absurd but is also revitalised. ‘Changing something on paper we visualize space’, Hamilton once said. Hamilton toys with the fact that our brains are filled with predisposed ways to see our environment. By confusing that perception he asks us to empty our minds and try to look afresh.
Hamilton’s thoughts wander in unorthodox logics and create unexpected connections - yet they somehow make sense. This is what makes Alex Hamilton’s art so outstanding and real; if raised to a more general level the details of our lives, like the details of Hamilton’s drawings, make sense and are comprehensible, yet the overall concept is difficult if not impossible to grasp.
Hamilton was born in Adelaide (Australia) in 1958. He has widely exhibited in the UK, Australia and the US and has lived in London since 1996. His work is part of several high profile collections such as the Saatchi Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, the Baltimore and Denver Museum of Contemporary Art.