Critics’ Picks

Jessica Jackson Hutchins, M, N, OH, 2013, sofa, ink and collage on plaster, glazed ceramic, shirt, 61 1/2 x 61 1/2 x 34 3/4".


Jessica Jackson Hutchins

Timothy Taylor | London
15 Carlos Place
January 31 - March 8

Clement Greenberg once coined the term “homeless representation” to refer to a painterly abstraction with a residual figuration. Greenberg’s term aptly describes moments in Jessica Jackson Hutchins’s art, but in Hutchins’s case, “homeless” also takes on an entirely humorous sense, given that her works incorporate pieces of found furniture and objects—literally carved up or grown into art. She works not only at the intersection of ceramics, sculpture, assemblage, and painting, but also—like those whose art Greenberg described—between abstraction and representation. To pull this off successfully, a certain amount of wit and skill is required, which the Portland-based artist evinces in both visual and verbal terms.

M, N, OH, 2013, consists of a blocky, whitish papier-mâché form covered with gaudy gestural brushstrokes that rises out of (or sits on) a worn, orange-black patterned sofa; a plaid shirt that once belonged to her husband hangs off one side, held onto the cliff-like edge by two ceramic boulder forms. The work immediately brings to mind the words “couch potato” but also “cliffhanger.” Such playfulness is evident not only in Hutchins’s juggling of creative approaches, but also in the linguistic play around each work. Here, a large N spans the white form, while the M is on the ceramic pieces, and the man’s shirt (an avatar for the male figure) is perhaps intended to elicit the Oh. Similar to artists such as Phyllida Barlow, Hutchins delights in the evocative nature of abstract forms, but adds real-world objects that accrue an additional narrative dimension. M, N, OH suggests both a mutant-like growth but perhaps also a sense of lounging, of the stationary. Though ludic in spirit, Jackson’s careful balancing act is also a serious approach to making painting thing-like.