The Un-Set Stage: Daniel Hutchinson’s Zero Dimensions
Erin Eller, Mass Art Guide, November 1, 2009
In the world of theatre, repetition is an essential element to both the rehearsal and the performance processes. Lines and scenes are memorized, music cues are assigned, and the actors are told where to stand and how to move. These actions are repeated until a specific aesthetic is formed, and the framework of the show is constructed. Because this aesthetic is duplicated each performance, live theatre has attained an aura of the uniform, or the unchanging. Stage performances, however, are full of chance, mutation, and creation. Although the lines and scenes are rehearsed, differences are inevitable with each new production. These natural shifts make every presentation a unique event.
Daniel Hutchinson is one artist who examines how repetition breeds difference within the realm of the theatre and the visual arts. Working with a monochrome palette, Hutchinson meticulously recreates stage settings using a series of black-on-black lines. On the surface, these replications appear to be static renderings of a stage, but conversely, they are actually studies of disparity and alteration.
Void of any human figures, the ‘actors’ of Hutchinson’s artworks are striated geometric shapes. Upon first glance, the shapes appear to be symmetrical, however closer inspection yields a string of variations.
These differences are due to Hutchinson’s deliberate modification of the painted surface. Using a syringe, the artist drops paint throughout the work and allows gravity to create discord within the piece. As seen in “Act IV”, Hutchinson’s two circular ‘actors’ vie for space on an empty black stage. These circles are in turn made up of a series of lines that have each been touched by Hutchinson’s paint-filled syringe. Similar to performing scenes on the stage, each line in the circle’s perimeter creates an individual structure unlike any of its counterparts.
Hutchinson also paints empty theatre spaces, such as his boldly geometric work, “Chichester”. This maze-like scene reconstructs the image of a theatre through the use of angled black lines. As the viewer walks past the piece, the shifting light simultaneously reveals and conceals the carefully painted surface. Once again, the deliberate anomalies of each paint stroke can be noted. Like live theatre, this stage may appear to be a space of repetition, but as Hutchinson depicts, it is actually a site for metamorphosis.
Short listed for the RBC National Painting Competition, Daniel Hutchinson’s Zero Dimensions is on display through November 15th at Galerie Push.