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JH

Speaking in Tongues

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Installation view of Julian Hooper's exhibition, Talking Pit, at Ivan Anthony Gallery. Installation view of Julian Hooper's exhibition, Talking Pit, at Ivan Anthony Gallery. Installation view of Julian Hooper's exhibition, Talking Pit, at Ivan Anthony Gallery. Julian Hooper, Abel, 2023, acrylic on canvas, 500 x 350 mm. Julian Hooper, Reenactment, 2023, acrylic on canvas, 350 x 250 mm. Julian Hooper, Rebel, 2024, acrylic on canvas, 380 x 300 mm. Julian Hooper, Resolution, 2024, acrylic on canvas, 380 x 280 mm. Julian Hooper, Will, 2024, acrylic, on canvas, 505 x 350.mm. Julian Hooper, Halfwit ,2024, acrylic on canvas, 350 x 250 mm. Julian Hooper, Love Signs, 2023, acrylic on canvas, 350 x 250 mm. Julian Hooper, Herodotus, 2023, acrylic, on canvas, 505 x 350 mm. Julian Hooper, Virtue, 2024, acrylic on canvas, 505 x 350 mm. Julian Hooper, Cruelty, 2024, acrylic on canvas, 350 x 250 mm

Hooper's images are often very entertaining, but their ambiguous effectiveness also depends on the imagination of the viewer. The artist clearly loves manipulating ambiguous space as well, within suspended mid-air linear formations, while the finish is not overly slick. His paintings are obviously handmade, like those of many of the early surrealists, but with a confident compositional dynamism and wit that generates curiosity.

Tāmaki Makaurau

 

Julian Hooper


Talking Pit



10 February - 9 March 2024

In his painting trajectory, Julian Hooper has moved away (over a sequence of eleven shows) from what seemed to be an earlier Fortunato Despero-like Futurism through Surrealism towards pithy logos that are highly graphic, and occasionally dynamic in sculptural form, with artist influences that apparently ranged from Henry Moore to Jim Nutt.

Hooper’s ten small suggestive images in Talking Pit are also related to abstract linear diagrams of self-aligning parallel configurations (testing out spatial ambiguities) as found in books on optical perception like those of popular psychologist Richard Gregory. Some are deliberately misaligned within the rectangular canvas.

A few have incomplete twisting fingerlike shapes that are floating parallel in space, or intertwined, overlapping, or geometrically positioned for maximum rhythmic effect. The show’s title cleverly implies a ferocious verbal contest about meaning, two sharp articulate contestants within a confining ring.

For lovers of freewheeling interpretation, they are great fun to ponder:

In Abel we see a floppy, distinctly flat ribbon that as a suspended curved parabola is held up in the aether by rigid stainless steel strips attached splayed to the undulating contoured rim of a hidden bowl. Two different types of solid mass are in juxtaposition.

Reenactment seems to be a hand with fingers and thumb chopped off, or a mutilated tree, or a bizarre insect face with protruding eyes and extended chin and forehead.

Rebel might be a thick nut shell with no kernel that has three deep holes that slyly create a smiling face. Belonging to an eccentric and foolish individualist.

In Resolution, four identical doubled-over flat curved bands make up two vertical teardrops that are cascading from two little beady black eyeballs.

Three coloured bannerlike tongues seen in Will could be competing (in a mouth) for two smokeless cigarettes or well-aimed blowpipes.

Halfwit is a very long tongue wrapped around a horizontal spindle like a toilet roll. Perhaps it is the tongue of a garrulous and dopey bore, or else, by association a dismissive Freudian aside about an insatiable never-ending ‘backdoor’ erotic intimacy.

And so it goes. Hooper’s images are often very entertaining, but their ambiguous effectiveness also depends on the imagination (or possibly, oblique smutty propensities) of the creative viewer. The artist clearly loves manipulating ambiguous space as well, within suspended mid-air linear formations, where the finish is not overly slick. His paintings are obviously handmade, like those of many of the early Surrealists or Dadaists, but with a confident compositional dynamism and wit that generates curiosity.

John Hurrell

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