Patrick Hill

The Approach

Perhaps the most unlikely thing about Patrick Hill’s recent work is the fact that someone like Hill made it. Sternly elegant forms and somber opulence seem improbable for a former surfer dude; hence the frequent reference, in the titles of some of his previous paintings and in articles written about the artist, to Hill’s brain tumor (discovered and subsequently removed in 2001)—as though this biographical nugget could account for either the sculptor’s avid formalism or his tendency to sully it with organic and abject substances. Cancer appears to complicate the surfer stereotype in just the way that these materials—from vegetable dyes to syrups to staples to spit—exert their friction on formalism: by eating away at the beatitude of the essentials.

For his recent solo exhibition, Hill presented three sculptures and a selection of paintings. In Oriental, 2008, a pane of glass is sandwiched

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