For some reason, it seemed like every gallery in Chelsea had an opening last Thursday April 24th. We started our night at Galerie Protégé for Boxed in Plastics by Justine Hill. This is her first solo show in New York and with the gallery. I interviewed Justine before the opening and was impressed by her work and the thoughts behind this exhibition. In Boxed in Plastics Justine merges and overlaps diverse abstract languages with various applications and styles. The layers, colors and bold strokes balance each other and give the show harmony. Currently she’s exploring abstract notions of space through the removal of direct references to things in the world, so that even though she began her career by exploring landscape, it’s impossible to look at one of her pieces and determine whether it’s in the landscape, portrait, still life etc. tradition.
My favorite painting was Minion of the Moon. Here, Justine places abstract blocks of paint in the forefront, obstructing background features, and at the same time controlling and manipulating space. To me she’s playing a bit with the idea of focus – what can and can’t we focus on in a visual or experiential situation. How easy or difficult is it for us to take everything in at the same time? Are we limited, somehow, in our grasp of totalities – do we have to resort to analysis of details or can we accept and absorb something whole? She mentioned to me in our interview that she likes exploring information as a ‘pattern’ and I really see this in her paintings. If information is a pattern, she seems to be asking how the different components of some type of attempt at communication are grasped. Do we take in the whole pattern or do we grasp the individual features. How are individual features lost in a pattern? How often do we rely on representational clichés in our grasp of the world, or are we limited in seeing things fresh because we want to see visual clichés?
She’s obviously chosen to rely more on shapes than on lines in this show and these solid blocks even remind me of Matisse’s cutouts, which he did towards the end of his career because he couldn’t use his hands to paint. In 1941 he was diagnosed with cancer and shortly after, he started using a wheelchair. With the help of his assistant Lydia Delectorskaya he made Gouaches Déscoupés which he called “painting with scissors.”
Broadly speaking, we can even say Justine’s work should resonate with people in New York City. It’s almost impossible to grasp this city whole. We are confronted with little blocks of information or experience here and there and we seek for patterns that sometimes exist and sometimes don’t. However, we are a mixture of different cultures, languages and beliefs that balance each other, much like her paintings.
Justine Hill: Boxed in Plastics/ On View: April 17–May 17, 2014
Galerie Protégé . 197 Ninth Ave (Lower Level – Chelsea Frames) New York, NY 10011
Tel: 212-807-8726 Fax: 212-924-3208
Writing by Jamie Martinez
Photography by: Max Noy Photo with the art work photos provided by the gallery and the artist.