New York

Charles Hinman

Denise René Gallery

Charles Hinman’s work takes us back to the period when there were lots of shows with scientific sounding titles like “Quantum I”—the name of the first New York group show in which he participated in 1964. Hinman’s work is incredibly impeccable but, as James Collins recently said in connection with the similar impeccability of John McCracken’s work, times have changed.

Hinman hasn’t developed the interest in materiality and physical process which is the difference between the painting of the last few years and that of the previous decade. Hinman’s shaped canvases have more to do with the “late Constructivism” of Ed Ruda’s Supermarket Angel, 1965, than with either Stella or the originally Pop-inspired, three-dimensional paintings of Richard Smith. But where Ruda was concerned in 1965 with color as an “optical” disturbance on a flat surface, Hinman is not. Instead, his dependence on Johannes Men’s color theory underlines the tendency that this kind of work has to come across as architectural ornament. Color which reflects from surface to surface—Hinman often provides white planes to call attention to this phenomenon—and color that harmonizes, contribute to this effect. The subject of Hinman’s painting isn’t color as a feature of pictorial space, but color as a modifying influence on geometrically distributed forms in a space that is architectural rather than “architectonic.” Hinman’s work operates within a space directly responsive to that of buildings, rather than one extrapolated from the architectural, but subsumed into a notion of planar relationships that is finally independent of the vocabulary of architecture itself. Max Bill comes to mind as an artist with whom Hinman has direct affinities, and, like Bill’s, his work appears predictable and alien to the issues that at present seem to generate important or even unimportant art.

Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe