Paddle8 member gallery Foxy Production is one of the first galleries highlighted in our May project “In the Gallery | New York,” which will be giving in-depth looks at Paddle8 galleries based in New York or participating in one of the New York Art Week fairs. Currently on view at Foxy Production is Totaled, the second solo exhibition at the gallery by British artist Gabriel Hartley. Hartley’s exhibition showcases the many mediums he works with, with paintings, sculptures and prints. We had a chance to chat with Hartley about his work, youth, and cosmetic surgery – check out our interview below, and make sure to visit Foxy Production in Chelsea before Hartley’s exhibition closes May 26!
Paddle8: I love that the titles of your paintings refer to cosmetic procedures. Have you seen the Robert Zemeckis movie “Death Becomes Her” where Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep are spray painted in a post cosmetic surgery attempt to preserve their youth?
Gabriel Hartley: Yes, I really like that film; that’s a great reading. I sometimes feel like the Bruce Willis character who is in charge of preserving/enhancing/manufacturing beauty using paint. The spray paint is always the final layer on the paintings. It is often sprayed on top of thick oil paint which has often been scraped and scored. At this stage the paintings, like Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep’s characters, are in need of repair or at least a sprucing up. The paintings are worked and reworked; there is a moment when the reworking enhances the paintings and a moment too far when they collapse. This is an interesting point for me. The moment when they are unravelling. I love the scene at the end of the film when Bruce Willis’ character can no longer repair the women: they have gone too far; they have collapsed. Bruce’s work that once preserved their beauty and glamour is replaced by their own make-up slapped all over their faces. They look awful: Meryl Streep looks like Divine.
P8:With process driven work, it can be challenging to determine when a piece is finished. How do you know when you’ve completed something? Do you ever revisit past paintings and continue working on them?
GH: Yes I pretty much always re-visit my paintings, but I always want them to remain having a spontaneity and a deeply personal touch. Knowing when a painting is finished is always the hardest thing. I often think a painting has the right balance, and leave it in the studio for a month or two only to look at it later and think it’s all wrong and change it completely.
P8: Can you speak about the way you’ve merged digital and analog processes in your work?
GH: With the paintings, I’ve been interested for a while in simulating a digitally made light. I’m interested in how often we interpret paintings through the back-lit screen of the computer. Translating this into the paintings themselves was a natural progression, something I identified in hindsight, but decided to explore. The most recent series of works, made using a flat-bed scanner, are a progression of this. I’ve found the scanner is a fantastic and immediate tool, and a great way of translating a three dimensional object. The prints are made from scanning folded or manipulated paintings, or from scanning crumpled pieces of paper similar to the sculptures I make. The prints are then manipulated by hand; either painted on, sanded back, or torn, they have a strong sense of the hand-made, as well as the light and depth of a digital image.