Tim Hawkinson’s practice is known for its sprawling surrealistic self-portraiture in which the body, through intense introspection, becomes an alien landscape open to radical redefinition and transformation. This artistic agenda is mirrored materially by Hawkinson’s use of familiar and ubiquitous consumer packaging and household objects in highly unconventional ways. The new work continues these refrains, while also exploring more pointedly temporality, mortality, and the cyclic.
Hawkinson works in a range of media, involving sculpture, painting, photography, and installation. The exhibition will present this wide array, including such pieces as, Orrery, a towering eight foot tall sculpture of a woman at a spinning wheel atop a platform that is itself made up of a series of rotating concentric circles depicting tire treads. This piece references the mechanical models and devices used to illustrate the motions of the planets and their moons in our solar system. A sculptural collage of water bottles, plastic shopping bags, recouped ordinary hardware, and odds and ends; every part of this piece is interconnected and eternally spinning, from her head, hands, eyes, and ears, to the optical pattern on her dress, which is a motion illusion called “Rotating Snakes” designed by Japanese Psychology Professor Kitaoka Akiyoshi. With wheels upon wheels, this hyperkinetic sculpture resembles a Whirling Dervish, a hypnotic mystical dancer forever cycling between the material and cosmic worlds.
A sympathetic sculpture, also approaching eight feet tall, is a giant foam candle. This dramatic increase in scale turns a once knowable and homey object into a caustic, volcanic landscape. A central wick appears to erupt in flames, sending a cascade of casts of Hawkinson’s heels and toes pouring down the side like a revolving wax waterfall. A small door on its side reveals a chamber lined with a golden emergency blanket that bathes the piece’s handcrafted motor in an orange glow, altogether evoking Earth’s fiery recycling processes. The burning candle also references vanitas paintings and their reflection on mortality.
In another piece, Hawkinson takes large self-portrait photos printed in the negative and collages them together to resemble a fleshy and precarious motorcycle. Suspended on an empty backdrop, Hawkinson reconfigures his body so that arms become handles, legs the spokes, and fingers multiplied and braided together to become tires. Eerie structural correspondences and analogous traits between the body’s composition, its locomotion, its internal cycles, and mass-produced two-wheeled motor vehicles give way to a sense of the “self” as “other”, a subject that is explored throughout Hawkinson’s practice.