Home Arts & Entertainment Two new exhibitions, “Combiner” and “Future Green,” premiere at Paradigm Art Gallery

Two new exhibitions, “Combiner” and “Future Green,” premiere at Paradigm Art Gallery

Below, the pair of artists discuss their sources of inspiration, the genesis behind the new collections and how their works complement one another.

Two new concurrent exhibitions, Hyland Mather’s “Combiner” and Evan Hecox’s “Future Green,” are now showing at the Paradigm Art Gallery, 746 S. 4th St. (Above: Image from Evan Hecox’s “Future Green.”) (Photo courtesy of Paradigm)

Two new concurrent exhibitions, Hyland Mather’s “Combiner” and Evan Hecox’s “Future Green,” are now showing at the Paradigm Art Gallery, 746 S. 4th St, through June 22. In both of their debuts at the Queen Village space, artists Mather and Hecox explore the physical and emotional world around them using their respective mediums.

Whether capturing the sites of a cityscape with paints or using objects once found in a cityscape for sculptures, the pair either literally or figuratively extract elements from their surroundings to produce thought-provoking projects.

Below, the duo discuss their sources of inspiration, the genesis behind the new collections and how their works complement one another.

This has been lightly edited.

Hyland Mather:

How does this collection align with your previous works? What makes it stand apart from your previous works?

I’m building off of moves and materials I’ve been into for a while, using collage, lost object materials, string, slogans, papercuts, laser engraving. All these voices are becoming more of a chorus now than they were in the past. In the past, all of these pursuits were a bit autonomous, now more gregarious, I think, more blended.

Your new exhibition is comprised of hand-painted wood and paper assemblages built with discarded found objects. How do these recycled items lend themselves to the work both physically and metaphorically?

Well, physically, I couldn’t make the work without these “lost object” components.  Metaphorically speaking, though, I am very guilty of anthropomorphizing the objects I use.  I think all the time how I’m giving new life to abandoned or discarded objects, so in that way, all this work is a metaphor for certain human feelings.

You mention gathering “junk” from wherever you can find it, including the city, fields and forests. How do certain objects inspire you more than others?

Sometimes, it’s just so easy to see why, the thing is too weird or too amazing all by itself not to use it in a composition, then, sometimes, I have no idea why I like it.  Drift wood from the Oregon coast, for example, is just awesome, everyone sees that bent-up metal strapping for a pallet of bricks. Though, most times, most folks just see it as junk, and yet, sometimes for me, the attraction to some weird thing is almost like a fetish.

What is the message behind “Combiner.” How is “junk,” as a medium, an effective way to convey this message?

I combine things, very literally with my use of materials, but also, I’m combining a handful of ideas with this work, too, and that feels good, like growing.  

Some of the collection includes sculptures while others are paper collages. How do you decide your approach to the different variations of your work?

Mood basically, and also what’s available in the studio. I tend to work in ‘bunches,’ so if I’m working on collage/papercuts, I’m usually working on six to 10 at a time. With the smaller sculptures, I’ll make 100 bases at a time from found steel, and then I’ll work in bunches of 12 to 20 of the wooden components at a time. When I’m really in a groove, I’ll be working on several ‘bunches’ at a time: a table full of sculptures, a table full of collage…that helps all the ideas surface as whole and complete in a shared timeline.

Your collection is being displayed in conjunction with “Future Green” by Evan Hecox. With bold colors and clear-cut shapes, the collection utilizes prints, drawings and mixed-media work to capture the urban landscape. How does this showcase complement your own collection?

Well, without gushing too bad, Evan is one of my favorite painters. I think his contributions to the traditions of both landscape painting and typography are massive. His inclusion in the seminal group show “Beautiful Losers : Contemporary Art and Street Culture,” along with his association with the Mission School, and his enviable position as long-time prominent designer for Chocolate skateboards, are marks of his importance in contemporary art and culture. Basically, I feel lucky to share the room with him. The typography in both our work is a nice thread shared between both shows.

This is your first solo presentation with Paradigm. How is this space fitting for this particular collection?

Paradigm does a great job showing and promoting the artists that they work with. I’ve been involved with them for a handful of awesome projects, and I am grateful for the solo show opportunity. Sara was a good coach in helping me decide what directions to take for this exhibition. Her curatorial guidance and Jason’s keen abilities matched the work to the space in a really nice way.

Images from Hyland Mather’s “Combiner.” (Photo courtesy of Paradigm)

Evan Hecox:

How does this collection align with your previous works? What makes it stand apart from your previous works?

This work is similar in that much of my work over the years has been inspired by travel and cities in particular, so Hong Kong as subject matter fits in well with that. My materials are a little different in this collection. In the past, I’ve mostly worked on paper with gouache, ink and watercolors. Many of these pieces are on panel and utilize spray paint and acrylics. I’m also using paint pens for most of the line work which is something new for me. Intentionally, these are made to look a little different as well, the colors are a little more vivid and are very flat and graphic, much like a screen print.

This collection was partially inspired by your recent travels to Hong Kong. Why was the environment’s cityscape particularly enchanting? How did you want to capture that through art?

Part of what excites me about cities is the constant push and pull between old and new, between decay and new growth, modern and traditional architecture. I like that big cities are places that can’t ever be totally controlled and managed as much as leaders and planners might try. There are always elements of chaos and unpredictability at work that undermine any set plans or rules. No place seems to embody this more than Hong Kong. The landscape and weather alone make it an unlikely place to put a city. It has very modern skyscrapers mixed among old rotting buildings set on impossibly steep streets…Streets are narrow and maze-like, running up steep hills. I wanted my work to get at the feeling of color, grit, complexity and the human element of Hong Kong.

This work also features 1960s illustration and graphic design. How does the artwork of this particular decade lend itself to your visions for this collection?

Yes, I’m inspired by that type of work. I like the straightforward depiction of people and environments. I don’t have any nostalgic feelings for the ‘60s, but it was sort of a golden era for illustration before photography became more predominant in magazines and posters. The ‘60s illustrators did a great job with taking things from reality and bending them into something unique and eye-catching. I like poster art and graphic illustration for its strong color use and composition. I think that style lends itself well to Hong Kong, especially which has a very graphic, colorful look to it already.

Please share a little bit about your process that includes photographic snapshots, sketches, color studies and fine line brushwork.

Photography always plays an important role for me simply because it’s how I capture what I draw and paint, however it’s also very important for me to be in a place myself, absorbing the feeling of it, which I tap into later when I’m painting. It wouldn’t be the same if I was working from someone else’s photos. I also like sketching on-site when I can. It’s obviously not as efficient, and photography and people don’t hold still, but I like to stop and sketch when I have time and the subject is fairly static. Color is very important to me in capturing the right mood. For the Hong Kong work, I basically made a palette of colors that I felt captured the feeling I had being there and used that in different proportions throughout. I do small color studies just to try different ideas out before I commit the time to a larger finished work.

What is the message behind “Future Green.” How is this multimedia approach an effective way to convey this message?

To be absolutely honest, “Future Green” is a color of paint pen I use a lot of, including with this show. I just like the sound of it and it also seems to resonate with Hong Kong a little bit since Hong Kong has a sort of Blade Runner futuristic feeling about it. “Future Green” seems like it could be a movie title for a film set in Hong Kong.

Your collection is being displayed in conjunction with “Combiner” by Hyland Mather. The exhibition is comprised of hand-painted wood and paper assemblages built with discarded found objects. How does this showcase complement your own collection?

I suppose Hyland and I are both collecting and re-assembling things for our art, albeit in very different ways. I go out and gather my raw materials in the form of photos, sketches and experiences, he gathers more physical materials, but then we both take what we’ve found and make it into something different than what it was when we found it. Hyland is a long-time friend of mine. I’ve really enjoyed watching his work evolve and just keep getting stronger. Our stuff is fairly different but in a complementary way, I believe.

This is your first solo presentation with Paradigm. How is this space fitting for this particular collection?

It’s great. I made most of these paintings the same height with variable width, which work well on the long wall of the gallery. There is a small break on the wall that carries into the next where my smaller works on paper get their own section. It’s a modest-size collection and it fits proportionally well into the space it’s given. There’s good natural light to help make the brighter colors pop.

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