By Grant Vetter
Autonomie is proud to announce the two-person show of Steve Hampton and Raymie Iadevaia on Saturday, November 10th, from 7-10pm. Please join us for this amazing exhibition.
Over the course of the last decade Hampton’s paintings have cycled through a series of motifs that are both identifiable and obscure, process-based and patterned, aggressive and demure. In fact, his oeuvre has a mixed constitution throughout, referencing themes as diverse as still life, landscape and even textiles. But what is central to his art practice is how all of these themes are implicated in the bifurcations engendered by action painting, or the asymptomatic relation between process-based abstraction and the empire of signs that make up ‘cultural’ discourse.
In fact, one might say that his works highlight a dialectic dissonance between radical re-appropriation and endemic dis-identification that relies on a vocabulary of undecidability, indiscernability and indetermination. Series like “Power Ballads” and “Greatest Hits” point to the hyper-reified condition of the painterly object while other bodies of work, like “Painting Lite” and “Acting Out”, hint at the larger problematic of consumability as a self-constituting condition. Each of these positions is engaged in a dissembling play of sign and signifier that makes hyper-reflexivity appear to be the common condition of contemporaneity.
More recently however, Hampton’s work seems to inhabit a post-dialectic stance that embraces mourning as an implicit strategy of the modernist enterprise, where the perpetual overturning of previous models of production points toward an endemic loss of meaning incurred by the cult of ‘progress’ and endless forms of ‘innovation’. But how is this type of historical melancholy addressed in his works? What hidden presuppositions subsist beneath such a program and what is at stake in Hampton’s challenge to the hyperbolic revolutions of received wisdom and its critical purchase?
First, we can say that Hampton treats painting as a ‘live’ medium inasmuch as he engages with the painterly sign as a symbol of flux. This is evidenced in what he refers to as a language of “swaths, spills and slides” that permeate all of his various projects. Of course, the conflict that adheres to these time-based processes often opens onto a series of doublebinds. Not only do such gestures produce the index of an absence that is also a type of presence — or the working of a type of work that has already past, and shows itself in this passing as a gesture — but they also give us a form of denatured authorship which hides prescriptive measures. Put another way, Hampton’s painterly denotations play off the function of the oblique with regard to indication and/or intervention by never revealing the biases of a system, style, or a given language. Instead, his process-based gestures are insistent, emphatic and enigmatic — acting more like disruptions than determined distributions of a given material.