The Traditional Landscape, Re-imagined: Stephen Hannock at Marlborough Gallery

What is truly extraordinary is that each painting of Hannock’s unfolds like a map of his personal journey through the additions of pasted material and text.

poster for Stephen Hannock

Stephen Hannock "Recent Paintings: Vistas with Text"

at Marlborough (Midtown)
in the Midtown area
This event has ended - (2012-04-25 - 2012-06-02)

In Reviews by Loren DiBlasi 2012-05-28 print

Contemporary art lovers are probably not tripping over themselves to get to a new exhibition that features that most traditional of art subjects, the Landscape; beautiful yet often boring, it’s a genre of painting best appreciated mostly by big-name museums and rich, stuffy collectors. However, there is one current exhibition that breathes powerful, much-appreciated new life into the genre, and Stephen Hannock is the man behind the magic.

In his show Stephen Hannock: Recent Paintings: Vistas with Text at Marlborough Gallery, Hannock proves that landscape paintings can be quite a lot more than beautiful views of nature; they are a part of human existence. By injecting personal thoughts, images, and anecdotes into his work, Hannock does exactly what all great artists should: turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Stephen Hannock 'Moving Water for Frank Moore; Niagara Falls'

Of course, this is not to say that Hannock’s painting is ordinary, otherwise. It’s hard to believe that the show is compromised of only four works, because their grand size and epic proportions embody the entire space like spectacular 19th Century panoramas. Each turn reveals a more astonishing view than the last, richly painted to evoke a stunning luminosity and breathtaking detail. In the show, you’ll be transported to Massachusetts (“The Oxbow: For Lane Faison with Betty and Agnes Mongan”); to Los Angeles (“A Recent History of Art in Southern California”); to Newcastle, England (“Northern City Renaissance, Mauve Dawn”); and to Niagara Falls (“Moving Water for Frank Moore; Niagara Falls”). All real places, obviously, but all of the views are less-than-realistic, exaggerated and pieced together in an almost whimsical fashion. This adds an appealing sense of fantasy to views that would otherwise be fairly straight-forward. At first, each location might seem random, but each one holds a special connection to the artist; look closely, and they reveal themselves to you.

Stephen Hannock 'A Recent History of Art in Southern California'

What is truly extraordinary is that each painting of Hannock’s unfolds like a map of his personal journey through the additions of pasted material and text. What at first appears to be a traditional vista quickly transforms into a work of mixed media. The exhibition features a Process Room, informing the viewer on Hannock’s truly original methods which involve acrylics, layers of glazing, sanding, and polishing. To the paintings, he adds images, notes, even directions– anything and everything that might pop into his head, stream-of-consciousness style. His “Niagara” work is the perfect example of how Hannock takes a traditional concept and spins it on its head. Inspired by New York artist Frank Moore, who died of AIDS in 2002, the painting features scribbles on everything from Moore’s family ties to the area of Buffalo, to works by Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church, to movie stills of Marilyn Monroe from the 1953 film Niagara. There are also many references to Hannock’s friends and contemporaries such as Cindy Sherman, with Hannock even writing a recommendation to attend her (at the time, upcoming) retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. It’s his own personal method of creation in marking his journey through life: places he’s been, experiences he’s had, people he’s met, loved, and lost.

As deeply personal, complex and affecting and is it awe-inspiring, Stephen Hannock: Recent Paintings: Vistas with Text is the traditional Landscape re-thought, re-worked, and re-imagined. See the exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery, 40 West 57th Street, until June 2.

Loren DiBlasi

Loren DiBlasi. Loren DiBlasi is a freelance writer/art and culture aficionado. Born in NYC, she is a recent graduate of Marymount Manhattan College as a double major in English and Art History. In addition to art of all shapes and sizes, she is also passionate about music, film, and fashion-- and writes about it all. She can be contacted at » See other writings


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