The sixteen paintings that make up Tommy Hilding’s West Coast solo debut are calm, patient, and philosophical; they possess a distinctly European sensibility. Aesthetically and conceptually antithetical to the polychrome psychedelia and neo-hippie collage aesthetic that pervades contemporary West (and sometimes East) Coast painting, Hilding’s reflective scenes do not
boast the manic youthfulness and “primitivist” abstraction that is popular in the Southland these days. Instead, his gray and placid postindustrial landscapes capture a light that is readily identified with Scandinavia.
Hilding, who lives in Stockholm, is strongly influenced by nineteenth-century Swedish landscape painting. He also incorporates soft-focus photorealism, postmodern layering, and a historicism characteristic of much postwar German painting to make images that filter urban consciousness through a serene contemplation of the substance of memory, life, identity, and family.
Extending the influence of photography on this body of work, references to camera obscura inversions exist as upside-down landscapes that hover above industrial street scenes. In other canvases, Hilding layers images, like reflections or double exposures, that come from different times and places. He mixes realism and abstraction to depict a clear view of the present as constantly marred—or embellished—by the superimposition of abject smears, like the stains of memory. The images that constitute our (collective) consciousness become increasingly layered as we age. In Los Angeles, where the passage of time is the enemy of all starlets, Hilding’s works remind us that not just wrinkles but also wisdom, beauty, and perspective come with time.
2230 and 2222 Main Street
January 12–February 16