When we use the phrase “like watching paint dry,” it’s typically to register our impatience with the leisurely unfurling of some event over which we have no control. But recently, as I looked at Alex Hay’s new paintings, the phrase came to mind in the form of a peculiar compliment and, perhaps more to the point, as a way of articulating a methodological paradigm for the artist’s long—if arguably interrupted—oeuvre. By interrupted, I mean that Hay, a fixture of the New York art world in the 1960s and early ’70s, abruptly quit the scene at the moment he seemed to have it made, and it has been unclear just what he’s been doing for the last three decades or so.
A participant in iconic performance events such as Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver’s 9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering (1966), Hay also once busied himself producing art best described as a kind of decelerated Pop. If this sounds
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