Critics’ Picks

View of “Pastiche Cicero,” 2014.

View of “Pastiche Cicero,” 2014.

New York

Timothy Hull

Fitzroy Gallery
195 Chrystie Street
March 8–April 20, 2014

In “Pastiche Cicero,” artist Timothy Hull nods to overlooked and off-the-cuff art of the ancient world, sourcing graffiti found at the Athenian Agora and in Pompeii as imagery for his cheeky, archeologically themed paintings and wall installations at Fitzroy Gallery. As its title suggests, the show presents stylized reproductions of classical phenomena: The oil painting Copy of a Copy of a Copy/Blue, 2013, depicts a two-handled urn that Hull has reduced to a graphic stamp, its pictorial simplicity tempered by an elaborate texture of obsessively wrought brush marks. The drawing For Amonis, Who Died at 29, in 610, 2014, transcribes an ancient epitaph in its original alphabet, but in blue gel-pen ink. Meanwhile, on the pace between drawings and paintings, tiny shelves support cheap faux-Athenian vases (the kind found in Greek diners), which hold sprigs of olive branches—perhaps peace offerings to the gods of good taste.

In a tucked-away backroom, a mixed-media installation Reel Around the Fountain, 2014, (named after the Smiths’ song) stages a hybrid bathroom: A modern porcelain urinal is the centerpiece, while Greek glyphs and homoerotic graffiti, writ in dripping paint, cover the surrounding walls. A scented candle burning atop the Duchampian toilet casts shadows and gives the impression that the stall is intended as a site of devotion rather than desecration. Here, as throughout the show, Hull treats a mixed bag of cultural symbols with both humor and reverence—an alchemical recipe that grounds the modern artist’s mark in a long lineage of scrawls and satires.