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A Possible Forest: Exhibition of photographs by Tim Hailand opens at Maloney Fine Art
Rufus Wainwright in Make-up Mirror Edinburgh, 2013. Unique Inkjet print and silkscreen ink on Black and White Mythical toile fabric
26” x 38”.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Although from the outset Tim Hailand’s photographs are visually compelling, their subject matter, while figurative, is not immediately discernable. With scrutiny these images gradually reveal their contents. Large-scale, present day, usually male figures who are shirtless loom through what seem to be a series of generally monochromatic scrims of pastoral patterns nearly always taken from the distant idealized past. The robust photographic realities of the present are perceived in tandem with imaginary woodland scenes peopled by costumed nymphs, dryads, farmers, fishermen, and laundresses.

What in lesser hands might be merely theatrical, or cinematic juxtapositions are instead pictures suffused with vigorous dreamlike visions. Time itself is talking; the thoroughly modern is in present dialogue with art from the past. These conversations, as if overheard or glimpsed in gardens, are not didactic but rather invocations guided by the artist’s intuition and chance as he prints his photographs onto patterned cloth of the kind called toile de Jouy. It began to figure in his work during a residency at Monet’s Giverny where his bedroom was papered with a red and white eighteenth-century toile of pastoral scenes.

Hailand later purchased cloth of this same variety to use as grounds on which to print his photographs. These are often portraits of athletic European men, artists, and performers, made, in a variety of places, but also at Giverny. Cloth was mounted to paper cut to dimensions of a size that could be made to fit through an Epson printer and onto which the digitized portraits were directly printed. On occasion the boundaries of the fabric extends beyond the edges of the photograph so that it frames as well as filters what we see. The opacity of the inks and the patterns they carry both mask as well as frame the photographic imagery. The addition of the colors of the toile is intrinsic to the force of the finished works.

Occasionally unexpected juxtapositions of the pattern of the fabric and the flesh of the models give the illusion that bodies and faces are heavily tattooed in ways that overrun, even overwhelm, actual anatomy, as when the drawing of a branch of a tree drapes down from the nape of a man’s neck and splays out over the top of his chest while another leafy limb runs over his ear and forms a kind of carnival mask on his profile. In another image the mast of a ship and a sail extends from a chin up over a mouth and then up onto the bridge of a nose while smaller boats sail across his temples.

The results of these arcane procedures are splendid, simultaneously subtle and strong. Guided by the artist’s intuition, his restless experimentation, and his relentless editing of the results, a unique body of work has come into being. By utilizing revisions of pastoral idylls from the decorative arts of the past, Hailand has uniquely enriched and enlivened modern heroic portraiture.

In 2012, Tim Hailand was awarded a residency to live and work at Giverny - Monet’s former home and gardens. The room in which Tim lived was wallpapered in toile de Jouy, a kind of 18th century decorative pattern printed on cotton that depicts pastoral life in independent floating monochrome vignettes.  Feeling that all aspects of a given environment are materials to be worked with, Hailand began printing his own inkjet photographic portraits of various sitters directly onto toile de Jouy and other fabrics that he selected.

Embracing theories of chaos and chance - allowing his photographic subjects to interact with the images of the fabric, Tim merges the flat with the three-dimensional without giving visual primacy to either. The works juxtapose the imaginary and the real, melding disparate anatomies and graphic styles in a dreamlike manner. In those instances when the patterns of the fabric continue beyond the boundaries of the modern imagery, the suggestion is that the present is invariably framed by the past. Often, the scale of Hailand’s heroic figures dwarfs those seen from the past. In different ways both are idealized and a dialogue of past and present is established. Hailand’s intentions are informed by philosophical considerations as well as his self-imposed visual imperatives. The work attempts to transcend decorative impulses and engage the viewer with the metaphysical world.

The artist lives and works in Los Angeles.

The exhibition is on view at Maloney Fine Art September 13 – October 31, 2014.

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