Notating Hi Pops Review by Keren Moscovitch @ Artpulse Magazine

Joshua Dildine’s astute solo exhibition at Freight + Volume addresses
issues of memory, the archive, family dynamics and technology. An
examination of the ways his work leaps off the wall and enters our
consciousness may help elucidate the discourse it provokes. In short,
to see a Dildine on the wall of a gallery is to look at a painting—a
sensitively gestural work of art that reveals its process below the
surface of its brush strokes and saturates the viewer’s field of vision
with color, action and surface. To see a series of Dildines on a Web
site or in a gallery checklist, reduced to two-dimensional flatness
and devoid of their distorting scale, reveals another aspect to their
meaning, one that is directly tied to the photograph that originated
the piece and its violent resolution. 

Walter Benjamin warned that a work of art in the age of mechanical
reproduction is robbed of its aura. Dildine’s recently completed series
“Notating Hi Pops” plays with this proverbial sacrificial lamb from
multiple directions and on parallel timelines. Dildine prints old family
photographs onto large canvases and then attacks them with aggressive,
yet graceful mark-making in paint, ink and mixed media collage.
Speaking directly from the sensibility of a generation that has grown up
looking at “vintage” photographs as throwbacks of another era on upto-the-minute
social media sites, he comments upon a layer of historical
narrative in which the image is divorced from its physical context. The
photograph itself becomes a character in a contemporary drama, immersed
in a process of transformation and flux. 

In False May Minds, the photograph hiding behind an expressionistic
flair of swirling paint seems to be that of a young child lounging on a
father, sprawled upon a cozy suburban couch. The once-white high-top
sneakers peaking out from below acid wash jeans reveal the scene as
harkening a time recent enough to feel comfortingly familiar, yet distant
enough to carry the weight of nostalgia. The two bodies seem to merge
into one behind the veil of gyrating forms, constructing a hybrid creature
of limbs and retro fabric. The tangled mass of parent and child implies an
intense intimacy, palpable and untouchable. Dildine’s painting method is
almost digital in its ability to suggest photographic blur, and psychedelic
in its relationship to vision. Elements are copied and pasted within the
domestic scene, never allowing the viewer to forget the manipulation
enacted by digital technology on memories and representations. 

Several paintings feature distorted and hidden faces and the assumption
that below the scratches, spray paint, cutouts and other annihilating
gestures lie the wide smiles of performed domesticity. Dancing
Sharp leaves little opportunity for analysis, and seems to take its
meaning from obfuscation. The composition’s opacity begins with
the deep astronomical abyss replacing one face and continues to the
crocheted mask covering the other’s, while the inversion of the entire
image forces a disorientation and sense of doom. Damn Matte takes
the sacrilegious approach of desecrating an infant’s visage, his joyful
laughter replaced by disruptive gashes of men’s shirt fabric, seemingly
displaced from another location, work of art or recollection. 

We don’t learn much about Dildine’s upbringing from his artwork;
rather, we are invited to confront our relationship to personal history
and the ways that we have gotten used to superimposing the domestic
space onto the public sphere, gaining and losing meaning in the
process. Dildine reminds us that despite our access to information,
truly intimate moments remain quarantined in psychic seclusion.
(May 21 – July 8, 2015)

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