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Alex-Hamilton-Fourth-Plinth

Patrick Heide Contemporary Art is pleased to present ‘ If you melted, I would melt myself into you’, an exhibition that brings together works on paper by Alex Hamilton, Jürgen von Dückerhoff & Christian Holstad.

Readapting surrealist techniques Hamilton, Holstad and von Dückerhoff rub, erase and redraw printed book pages, newspaper images and photocopies and turn cityscapes, bodies or faces into alienated unnerving scenarios. The use of these peculiar techniques such as grattage and frottage generates chaotic and shifting urban landscapes, melted and deformed bodies or featureless faces.

What binds the works of these artists together is the creation of tormented figures and discomforted realities where elements of vision, dreams, memories and psychological distortions merge, immersed in an atmosphere of almost violent loneliness.

In this sense, ‘If you melted, I would melt myself into you’ can also be seen as a reinterpretation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism. If ‘existence precedes essence’ and subjectivity is the point of departure, an individual is at first nothing; he makes himself what he wants to be. There are no norms to conform to; a person is free, rootless and responsible for herself resulting in a human condition of total individual isolation.

The new Photocopy Drawings from the “Fourth Plinth” and ‘Wave Drawings’ series show Alex Hamilton’s particular strength in large scale works on paper. In “Crossroads 7”, the largest photocopy drawing ever made by the Australian artist, Hamilton reworks a photocopied image in the usual manner by rubbing out parts, adding new forms and structures before re-photocopying and repeating the erasing and redrawing process.

Meticulously detailed drawings yet wonderfully weird, they reveal the fascinating nature of Hamilton’s imagination. 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 and its reading becomes absurd but also revitalised.

The works on paper by American artist, Christian Holstad, belong to the series The Searching Wind. Sourced from black-and-white photographs cut from newspapers leaving large parts untouched, Holstad alters the original image with both ends of a pencil. The NY based artist carefully erases the ink from parts of the image to create deformed figures that seem to melt together and merge with their backgrounds. Details are added in pencil to contort, warp and dramatically recontextualize the original image. The fragility of the drawings and the sentiments they convey shows Holstad' s ability to create poignant artworks from the most mundane sources whose uglification and defacement reveal the true face of society and politics in the US.

Although the juxtaposition of objects and characters in Jürgen von Dückerhoff may seem entirely arbitrary and subconscious at first glance, there is careful control of the alienation process in the German artist’s imagery. Printed book pages of portraits of a war general or a hippie couple, gatherings like a communist sports propaganda event, people mutate into surrealist nightmares and ironic commentaries on our society at large. Lautréamont's 'beautiful chance encounter of an umbrella and a sewing machine on an dissection table' turns nasty and wild but doesn’t loose its miraculous spell.

In the last week of the exhibition Alex Hamilton’s first comprehensive catalogue with a text by Jonathan Griffin will be launched in the gallery.

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