– Spring/Summer 2007

Variety Shows

Dominic Eichler

Who in the end really wants to be summed up, boiled down and categorised? And if that's true of our asinine, but still precious selves, then why would we want to do just that with an artwork in a text? Especially considering that art remains one of the only places - and a highly contested one at that - where ideas might conflate without congesting, seduce without necessarily disappointing, straddle and taunt the realms of the explainable and the desirable.

Richard Hawkins's work over the last decade or so resists and flouts plenty of easy, well-worn categories and definitions. Sure, at times, and for his own reasons he has flirted blatantly with some. Take for example his torn or cut sexy hot-guy queer collages and his reworked, appropriated photographs from the 1990s - some featuring 1980s' teen-idol Matt Dillon, such as No title (02)

(1993-98), a magic-marker drawing on a photograph. But tomorrow is another day, it has its own inexorable logic and might, for instance, be much more conducive to making some high-brow studio work (concentrated, rarefied, isolated) in the form of soft painterly abstraction. (Can a hardcore fag be a closeted hardcore late modernist? Is it just me and my imaginary friend Andy, or why does this question, banal as it is, have such resonance despite our Jaspers and Roberts?) Too many fractured, mirror-like (in the sense that abstraction throws you back on yourself) compositions of geometric ambience and decorative, wallflower-like silence lead back to a longing for the flesh and figures, the exploration of their holes, warts and cracks. Forms and subjects, new arenas of interest, suggest dynamic opposites, dramatic new scenes, departures and returns.

  1. Michel Tournier, Gemini, London: Collins, 1981, p.94.

  2. Michael Ned Holte, 'Critics' Pics', artforum.com, December 2004.

  3. Christopher Miles, 'Richard Hawkins', Artforum, February 2005, p.178.

  4. R. Hawkins, 'Notes for Paintings' accompanying the exhibition at Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne, June-July 2004, p.1.

  5. Terry R. Myers, 'Richard Hawkins', Modern Painters, February 2005, p.107.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Alex Farquharson, 'Richard Hawkins', frieze, October 2000, p.121.

  8. Ibid.

  9. 'Nine sex questions - Richard Hawkins', John Waters and Bruce Hainley (eds.), Art - A Sex Book, London: Thames & Hudson, 2003, p.190.

  10. R. Hawkins quoted in a press release, Galerie Daniel Buchholz, September 2002.

  11. See Bruce Hainley, 'Richard Hawkins', Artforum, March 1998, p.106: 'Alfred Jarry referred to [beauty] as "monster". Hawkins quotes him on his website: "It is conventional to call 'monster' any blending of dissonant elements; the Centaur and Chimera are defined this way. I call 'monster' ever original inexhaustible beauty".' Hawkins's website is no longer online.

  12. Richard Hawkins, notes accompanying the exhibition 'Urbis Paganus Part I + III', Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne, September-October 2006, p.4.

  13. R. Hawkins, in an email to the author, February 2007.

  14. R. Hawkins, notes accompanying the exhibition, op. cit., p.2.

  15. For instance, the 'Urbis Paganus' project grew out of a trip to Rome to research a lecture on Caravaggio.

  16. R. Hawkins, notes accompanying the exhibition, op. cit.

  17. See Michel Foucault's Herculine Barbin, New York: Pantheon, 1980.

  18. R. Hawkins, email to Corvi-Mora gallery, London, 2006.

  19. Ibid.