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'Hayley Tompkins. Technicolor Hamburger' on view at the Drawing Room in Hamburg
Digital Light Pool LXXXVII 2015. Acrylic paint on plastic, 22.8 x 30.8 x 5.8 cm. Images: Courtesy of the artist, Drawing Room, Hamburg and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow. Photos: Helge Mundt, Hamburg.


HAMBURG.- The Glasgow-based artist perceives herself to be a painter. However, she creates her “paintings” from objects that painters would normally never consider basing their representations on. Instead of the conventional canvas, Tompkins uses a wide range of different everyday objects as image carriers, for example mobile phones, knives and chairs, sunglasses or small branches, which she transforms into something different using delicate brushstrokes.

This works series, which Tompkins has named Objects, deals with the question of how adding paint can transform found basic commodities, giving them a new identity that goes beyond their previous functionality. “This transformation is, perhaps, the meaning of optical research in Tompkins’ practice, the uncovering and foregrounding of secondary characteristics in the material world”, according to Will Bradley (in ‘Up until now’, exhibition catalogue Aspen Art Museum, 2013, p. 101). Colour is the most important element in Tompkins’ art – it has the potential to transform material by causing a shift in the viewer’s imagination.

Tompkins describes this duality between the external image and that of the mind as a kind of hypothetical relationship, as her objects only seem to exist “as if”, as an echo of something that existed before. Her objects can be perceived as something between a dream, a reconstruction and a product.

With the work series begun in 2013 on the occasion of the Venice Biennale, Tompkins further explores the tasks and scope of her medium. Relinquishing the brushstroke, she pours acrylic paint, as thin as watercolour, into transparent plastic bowls, normally used to store provisions. The working process contains an analogy to photography: Tompkins pans the paint back and forth like in a gold-digger’s sieve, as if she were developing photographs in a darkroom.

As a result, within the confines of the plastic bowls, a “floating” visual plane is created, in which ellipse-shaped or amorphous areas of colour appear to have been set in motion, forming swirling colours and various thin layers of paint that merge to create organic structures, which trigger associations with fire, water, sand or cosmic entities. The monochrome works in this series are sometimes reminiscent of a meditative cushion of coloured pigments, watercolours and sponge gouaches in the style of Gotthard Graubner. Hayley Tompkins herself describes her works from the Digital Light Pools series as small television screens and as “events of colour in a space”.

For the exhibition “Technicolor Hamburger”, Tompkins created a series of new Objects and Digital Light Pools in luscious polychrome colours, which allude to the recurrent motif of the rainbow in her work and make playful reference to the US invention of colour film in 1915...“in a multitude of colours, as if to exist in Technicolor”.

With her variations in tone, which simulate the refraction of light on surface, Tompkins transforms her works into pure colour happenings and in this way gives them a hyperreal vibrancy that immediately appeals to our senses.

Hayley Tompkins (*1971 in Leighton Buzzard, England) lives and works in Glasgow. During the last three years, her international solo exhibitions included: Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York; The Aspen Art Museum, Colorado; Studio Voltaire, London; The Modern Institute, Glasgow; Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh; and Re, The Drawing Room, London. Her work was shown at the São Paulo Biennial in 2012. Her participation in group exhibitions includes the following institutions: Tate Britain; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Hessel Museum at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Together with Corin Sworn and Duncan Campbell, Hayley Tompkins was one of the three selected artists that Scotland exhibited in the Palazzo Pisani at the 55th Venice Biennale.






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