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James Hyde

Western Painting--Magnasco

October 6 - November 18, 2018


Alfred Mac Adam, Brooklyn Rail

David Cohen, artcritical

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The Sileni (Magnasco) (2018)

9 x 12 ft, acrylic and urethane, house paints metallic and earth pigments, powdered glass, mica, tire rubber on stretched vinyl print.

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Proserpine (Magnasco) (2018)

9 x 12 ft, acrylic and urethane dispersion, house paints metallic and earth pigments, powdered glass on stretched vinyl print.

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Marsyas (Magnasco) (2018)

8 x 10.5 ft. acrylic and urethane dispersion, house paints metallic and earth pigments, powdered glass on stretched vinyl print.

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Midas (Magnasco) (2018)

9 x 12 ft, acrylic and urethane dispersion, house paints metallic and earth pigments, powdered glass on stretched vinyl print.

Cathouse Proper is proud to premier a group of current paintings by James Hyde. These works, distinct from the landscapes Hyde recently presented at Freight + Volume, take as their subject the paintings of Alessandro Magnasco, (1667–1749). The process of these “Magnasco” paintings is akin to Hyde’s billboard-size paintings of the Stuart Davis Group presented at Pierogi’s “Boiler” in 2010. Hyde first photographs a small detail of the historic painting then has it enlarged and commercially printed on billboard vinyl which is stretched to form the ground for the contemporary painting. In these new works Hyde has channeled the dark Rococo sensibility of Magnasco by applying vertiginously varied layers of strokes that summon while obscuring the buried Magnasco brushwork that haunts beneath.

These hypo-chromatic paintings employ assorted matte and gloss varnishes, house paint, fresco and metal pigments, ground tire rubber and glass beads. Various concoctions of painterly soups were applied with sticks, rags and paint rollers as well as brushes. Moving in front of these paintings one sees shifting layers of material-—at one angle bright and glittery; at a different angle, brute sludge. The paintings never quite settle as images. Or perhaps painting surface itself is the image-- outsize in the remaining photographic details of the Magnascos, unstable and physically experiential in the large stretches of Hyde’s operatic paint application.

As large as 9ft x 12ft and at turns elegiac and energetic, Hyde’s insistently material paintings form a dialectic with 524 Projects’s crisp, airy architecture. While Hyde’s handiwork is instantly recognizable as painting—-perhaps even as painting of a Romantic sort, these are works that double as billboards (in origin, material and size). As such it is unsettled whether they celebrate and advertise this late and under-acknowledged painter of the Western Italian canon, or if Alessandro Magnasco’s paintings, the product of a distant culture have been appropriated, sullied and even graffitied over. Another possibility is that it is the billboard, that most classic emblem, (and extension) of American spirituality and economy that is the object Hyde dissolves and besmirches through that most ancient of means—painting.


James Hyde's work ranges from paintings on photographic prints to large-scale installations, photography, and abstract furniture design. He is represented by galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and Copenhagen. Mr. Hyde's work has been exhibited at the Maison de la Culture de Bourges and the Centre d'Art Contemporain d'Ivry, Galerie Fernand Leger/Credeac in France, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York, and the Zwemmer Gallery in London. He has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship, among others. Mr. Hyde's pieces are included in the collections of the Nation of France, the Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum of Art in New York, the Denver Art Museum, and the Museo Cantonale d'Arte in Lugano, Switzerland. He has lectured as a visiting professor at a number of institutions, including Yale University, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Bard College, and Cooper Union. He lives and works in Brooklyn.