Joshua Liner Gallery is pleased to present The Last Thousand Years, an exhibition of new paintings and mixed-media works by the Denver-based artist Evan Hecox. This is Hecox’s first solo show with the gallery.
Working in gouache on panel, Hecox brings an articulate but gentle eye to the urban landscapes he visits throughout the world (earlier series have referenced Mexico City and San Francisco). With a documentarian’s instinct for framing an evocative scene, the artist pulls forward certain elements by accentuating them with high color in contrast to otherwise subdued tones of gray, tan, cream, and black.
Hecox draws on recent travels to Vietnam, depicting the bustling street life of Ho Chi Minh City and other locales. The scenes teem with pushcarts, bicycles, cars, and people—most hurrying in crisscrossed trajectories, with the occasional long black braid of hair among the cacophony of commercial signs and shop fronts. These cinematic snapshots of urban life are given a uniform visual quality through Hecox’s lovely, muted palette.
But here and there, one or more details pop with emphasis, such as the hanging street sign in the eponymous Red Banner. Announcing the 50th anniversary of the Ho Chi Minh Trail (legendary supply line of the Vietcong), the red banner is at once a historic symbol and just another mundane detail in this complex urban setting. Red Banner teases out the layers of meaning in this otherwise “found” image, with a reference to wartime transport hanging nonchalantly above a contemporary route jammed with European scooters and Japanese trucks. The artist’s treatment of this specific detail retains its historical content while simultaneously emphasizing its abstract visual allure.
Hecox’s interest in travel, exploring, and photography tap into the experience of being a stranger in an unfamiliar locale. By placing himself in a new environment, the artist uses his own inexperience to remove or simplify certain details while emphasizing and exaggerating others. This process produces a graphic clarity in representing humans and human places, both real and within the mind. In addition to the paintings, the artist also brings this process of editing and amplification to smaller, mixed-media-on-paper works, which incorporate painted trompe l’oeil envelopes and real postage stamps paired with isolated images drawn from city streets.
Throughout, Hecox captures the everyday existence of average people as they traverse the detritus of the modern metropolis. The show’s title, The Last Thousand Years, hints at the notion that people’s daily lives, their means of survival, and their direct or spiritual connections with place remain largely unchanged across the centuries. Born in 1970, Evan Hecox lives and works in Colorado. Selected solo exhibitions of his work include Full Deck: A Short History of Skate Art, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, CA (2009); Distrito Federal, Kinsey / DesForges, Los Angeles, CA (2008) Los Calles, 4 Walls Fine Art, Austin, TX (2007); and The Art of Evan Hecox, Rocket Gallery, Tokyo (2003). Notable group exhibitions include the touring Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture, originating at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2004); 2006 Colorado Biennial, Aspen Art Museum; and Session the Bowl, Deitch Projects, New York (2002).
Evan Hecox’s ‘The Last Thousand Years’ opening reception (September 16, 2009)
New Evan Hecox screen print (September 4, 2009)