Lillian Bayley Hoover
Borders

These paintings continue to become simpler, quieter, more still, somewhat uneasy, always invested in the changing conditions of light. Moving through the world, I am constantly delighted by the banal visual elements of my specific life circumstances, which so often become more compelling than one might expect. The formal issues of abstraction clearly continue to be present in this work. The liminal spaces I’ve chosen to explore here are comprised of patterns, textures, shapes, and shadows that appear to have arranged themselves just so, waiting to be noticed by the viewer.

The subject matter in this series is derived from encounters with my environment while on neighborhood walks, during which I’m constantly observing my world. The paintings become a record of the daily, banal forms with which I live. I've long felt that things become valuable to us as a result of the attention we pay to them; in some way, attention translates into appreciation. Consequently, when I recently came across the following quote from Frederick Franck, it resonated with me deeply: "I have learnt that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen, and that when I start to draw an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is."

In my neighborhood, the border between a commercial storage space or industrial building and residential lot is quite permeable; they exist side-by-side, and structures don't belong wholly to one world or the other. This work is focused on the awkward spaces that develop in these interstices. Additionally, these paintings depict many literal barriers: walls, fences, osb board, bridges, industrial doorways. I'm interested in what happens at the interface between public and private: between a space to which we are granted access and a space to which we are not granted access.

Geometry infuses these paintings, and to some extent I envision this geometry as evidence of human endeavor— so often overruled or undermined by the passing of time and the inevitability of subsequent actions and events. Fascinating irregularities of form and inconsistencies of logic are thus produced. Despite our best intentions, the world will take our designs and do what it will with them.

As in my previous work, I continue to be drawn to very banal and awkward subject matter—there is nothing special about any of these places. What's interesting to me is how something becomes special through sustained attention. And in these forgettable, unprepossessing details, I find quietude. But the quietude that accompanies these empty places and "wrong" bits isn't insecure, fearful, or nostalgic. Rather than an indictment, the acknowledgement of these awkward moments becomes more about present-ness and the joy of looking. This quietude is comfortable with awkwardness, appreciative and mindful of the fleeting moment. I should also mention that the paintings don't feel hopeful to me, nor are they waiting, nor longing. While these spaces do wear their history, they do so as if to say “this is what is,” rather than to ruminate over what was or to look forward to the future.

For me, the act of painting is very much a way of knowing the world: my experience has so often been that I only understand what I'm looking at through the process of making the painting.


As it Is

An outgrowth of previous examinations of disintegrating architectural models, the focus of this series continues to be on awkward interruptions of what might typically be considered the "right" picture. Each painting represents a single brief moment in which routine artifacts of one’s daily life are illuminated and transformed, activated by the momentary attention. Banal, domestic flaws—features that are typically avoided in the course of self-representation—are here given center stage. These stained, chipped, misaligned, and untidy items are intensely personal, but the paintings aren’t of a confessional nature. Instead, the tableaus explore the delight of discovery as ordinary, imperfect materials are momentarily engaged in awkwardly arresting formal relationships. My interest in the unstable line between abstraction and representation remains a prominent thematic thread in this work.

Each of these images are clearly informed by photography’s ability to “fix” a moment in time and by the logic of selection that accompanies the era of digital manipulation. Nevertheless, these works embrace the language of painting more completely than previous series did. Photography is no longer deployed as a distancing or filtering mechanism, the emphasis on photographic depth of field is eliminated, and the paintings’ surfaces are of a tactile nature. Both the artist’s hand and the viscosity of paint have become more active participants in the work. Further, while the use of photography and cropping remain central to this process, the character of my photographic sources has changed. No longer "trophies" or souvenirs of the spectacle of power—and tourism—the images and moments are definitively mine, embracing the incidental and insignificant facets of my personal environment.


Sites of Power

This series explores structures in which power, an abstract concept, is embodied or performed. The paintings are based on my photographs of the scale models at Istanbul’s Miniaturk theme park. As imagery is translated from one medium to another, it becomes distorted: the “real” is processed and filtered, creating distance between the viewer and subject.

Painted with a clear reference to their photographic sources, but with severe cropping and awkward point-of-view, the images are reduced to formal composition, pattern and color, remaining only minimally recognizable. These quasi-abstract paintings thus return the reified concept of power to an abstract state, denuding the structures of the power they once wielded.

Further erosion occurs as moments of material imperfection are featured: cracks in plaster, Astroturf that curls up from its substrate, water stains on tarmac. In this way, an element of human frailty and disintegration is apparent in the otherwise idyllic model. The grand structures with which humans proclaim their power, wealth, status, and knowledge are not merely places: their influence and control over human behavior are performative exercises of power. When the building blocks are viewed up close, however, the intimidation upon which this control is based begins to break down.

This series attempts to further dismantle the mythology of such sites by disregarding the actual grand buildings as source material: the paintings instead reference photographs of their scale models. In presenting a miniature facsimile, models tame and disarm the mighty. When these tamed structures are subsequently photographed, they become souvenirs that literally fit in one’s pocket, or in the palm of one’s hand. This reference is significant and, consequently, the paintings preserve photographic details such as shallow depth of field and bokeh produced by the camera lens.


From Here

These paintings employ the naïve language of toys, models, and plastic dolls to investigate the unsettling realm of international political conflict. Many Americans experience events in Iraq solely through imagery mediated by news outlets, or other filtration systems. These paintings replicate the process of filtration, and the inevitable simplification and distortion of facts, as real-world signifiers are transformed first into a model, then into a photograph, and finally, into a painting.

Seen from a safe distance, imagery of the war elicits a range of responses including, among others, voyeurism, apathy, denial, self-concern, and impotent compassion. The fighting there is clearly far from over. But as our soldiers and correspondents return, the war also comes home, along with a multiplicity of painful struggles that will remain with us for many years. These paintings examine some of the many ways Americans have experienced the Iraq war. Model figures and toy dolls represent the housewife, the student, the businessman, and the soldier, all occupying the uneasy utopia of a model world. External signifiers, which suggest a greater embattled reality, interrupt this world and impose themselves on the viewer.