Los Angeles Times 2008

Los Angeles Times 2008
Landscapes echo territory of loss
Swedish artist Tommy Hilding has been exhibiting since 1980, but the 12 accomplished oil paintings at Angles constitute his solo American gallery debut. The complications of painting in a camera-dominated image environment are his art’s familiar leitmotif.
Taking cues from German artists such as Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, and evoking such different Americans as Andy Warhol and Vija Celmins, these paintings pit the hand against the machine. The subject matter is often bleak — industrial and suburban landscapes, wilting floral bouquets, jet trails over grim apartment blocks and an empty, rumpled bed. But Hilding painstakingly crafts an illusion of screen-printed dots, puddles of photo emulsion and smeared squeegee marks over the images.

Some works do have photo-collage elements within them, but the dominant pretense of machine printing creates a quiet, almost elegiac tension. A blurred and inverted rural landscape hovering above a joyless but crisply painted residential neighborhood is at once a memory of the lost agrarian landscape and the apotheosis of Richter’s aesthetic world view. (It’s like a secular Baroque altarpiece.) Hilding records a territory of loss, in works that value painting as a mode of restless cogitation.

By Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer