Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tracing Similiarites and Differences With The Work of Maya Hayuk and Lowell Darling

Exhibition Title: Maya Hayuk Feeling Space & Lowell Darling Full Disclosure
Location: Gallery 16 501 Third Street San Francisco, CA 94107
Dates: February 5 - March 31, 2010

As I entered Gallery 16, I was immediately drawn to the right as an explosion of neon and people swirled around the room. Maya Hayuk’s series of colorful paintings, mural and light collaboration, as well as a painting and mural collaboration hung waiting to be surveyed. On opening night, February 6th, the crowd was amass of every age group; it seemed an entire community had come to see Feeling Space. Babies crawled across the floor while an elderly man lay passed out in a colorful Hayuk inspired beanbag; someone had enjoyed a little too much free beer. I have been a fan of Hayuk’s for a while; her murals that can be traced all the way from Santiago to Brooklyn are colorful, in a thoughtful and psychedelic manner. She is probably best known for this medium as she is commissioned for it quite often. Prior to going to the show I read an interview with Hayuk in which she spoke of the trouble she felt she had encountered at trying to translate her mural style to the canvas. Trouble indeed. As I circled the gallery space that held Hayuk’s work I was nothing but disappointed. Hayuk’s work just did not translate. The canvas took on a lackluster appearance, nothing really stood out to me. The bright colors and shapes were very similar to what is found in Hayuk’s murals, however, when Hayuk is downsized, the result is not in her favor. Hayuk had one large work up that was mounted to the wall and comprised of a half mural accompanied by wood and painted canvas panels, I felt lost when looking at the work. It seemed childish and confusing, and effortless, none of these qualities translating to a favorable piece. Hayuk is an exceptional muralist and her talent is obviously there, but her show at Gallery 16 is nothing to get excited over. My greatest worry is that those new to Hayuk’s work will quickly dismiss her paintings. Hopefully Hayuk will continue with her murals and work out this canvas issue she is currently facing.

Untitled work by Maya Hayuk

Across the gallery California conceptual artist Lowell Darling’s show called Full Disclosure was displayed. How these two shows were supposed to smoothly transition from one to the other I cannot tell you. There seemed to be no fluidity between the two, no common theme, and quite frankly it was a confusing display of two very different artists. Darling recently announced his candidacy for California Governor, and many at the opening wore pins bearing Darling’s petition to run. The exhibition displayed all of Darling’s personal possessions from the United States. Boxes piled full of personal items, ephemera, and art that had been removed from a storage unit for this show. Some personal letters were displayed while others remained in their boxes. Probably the most amusing items hanging on the wall were an IRS document proving Darling is not an artist, as well as a letter Darling had written to Norman Rockwell asking why he had chosen to do artwork for a liquor advertisement. The gallery plans to hold weekly performances at the gallery where Darling will inventory the boxed items with the viewers present.

Untitled work by Lowell Darling

Darling’s exhibition was interesting to view but felt out of place next to Hayuk’s multi-colored canvases. Whether you choose to vote for Darling in the 2010 primaries is up to you, but hopefully his personal belongings will continue to be available for years to come as I am sure their amusing quality outweighs Darling’s ambitious race for Governor. As for Hayuk, I truly hope that she continues to work with canvases because as her mural work shows, her work only becomes smarter and sharper with time.


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