Contributed by Riad Miah / Theresa Hackett’s “Around the Bend,” her second solo show at High Noon Gallery and first at its new location, could also be titled “Inside and Out.” The inventive installation allows the viewer to weave through her four 72 x 48 inch double-sided, mixed-medium paintings, which are suspended in the gallery’s relatively small space. Each panel seems to project a diagonal, defying the boxy shape of the gallery and setting an apt tone for visual exploration – and indeed ambulatory navigation.
The prevailing imagery suggests organic forms, recalling Jean Dubuffet and Paul Klee, who employed similar shapes and colors; the artist herself recalls that Alexander Calder used buoyancy as a reference point. The double-sided aspect of the paintings builds on the interplay of macro and micro imagery in each surface. For example, in Hiding in the Shadow (front and back), one side depicts solid circular and lozenge-like shapes around a dark blue biomorphic organic form, the other side of the panel a similar geometric motif deployed as an aperture on an elliptical mesh pattern made with mica and other materials. The pattern resembles a microscopic view of the dioctahedral structure of the mica itself, establishing an aesthetic rhythm that courses through the work.
Hackett also flips micro and macro to appealing effect in Hypnotized (front and back). On one side of the painting is an intensely graphic oval image framed by a pattern of light and dark blue ribbon-like marks, punctuated by a repeated floral shape. On the reverse, there’s a round shape of a similar hue surrounded by an irregular construct that frames a pink-orange flesh tone. Between the front and the back, each painting seems to present an overarching idea keyed by the graphic organization of a visual field.
Behind the main exhibition area is a smaller space neatly displaying intimately sized drawings on shelves. These are evidently quick and unmediated contemplations of imagery – perhaps products of streams of consciousness – some of which take on more resolved form and assertive value in Hackett’s larger-scale paintings.
More significantly, those paintings, prepossessing in their own right, serve not only the traditional function of presenting imagery for visual consideration but also the more unorthodox one of adjusting relational aesthetics in light of pandemic constraints. As paintings, Hackett’s works are arguably a bit too large for the gallery space. As an installation, however, they are just the right size to confront viewers, and to keep them from avoiding the physical presence of other gallery patrons as well as the paintings themselves. Hackett may be saying that when human interaction itself has become something of a novelty, all of its forms – including forays to art galleries – should be amplified and celebrated, and never taken for granted.
“Theresa Hackett: Around The Bend,” High Noon Gallery, 124 Forsyth Street, LES, New York, NY. Through May 16, 2021.
About the Author: Artist and educator Riad Miah was born in Trinidad and Tobago and now lives and works in New York City. He has exhibited with Lesley Heller Workspace, Rooster Gallery, and Sperone Westwater Gallery, among others.