October 20 – December 10, 2011
Reception: Thursday, November 3, 2011 5:30 – 7:30
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10:30 to 5:30; Saturdays 11:00 to 5:00. For more information, please visit www.renabranstengallery.com or contact the gallery directly at (415-982-3292).
The paintings in Don Ed Hardy’s upcoming show at Rena Bransten Gallery evolved from the monumental 4 x 500 foot work 2000 Dragons, executed in the millennial year (a Dragon Year in the Asian zodiac). This was a decisive turning point for the artist in its scale and expansive gesture, as he had spent the previous four decades in near-daily practice with the obsessive precision of intaglio printmaking, lithography, tattooing, and careful watercolors. The mission goal of making two thousand dragons with no preplanned composition freed Hardy up to explore pure abstract elements along with recognizable forms. The spontaneous works since then continue to develop intuitively at the moment of painting.
The big scroll was executed with acrylic on archival synthetic paper, which was available in huge rolls. Featherweight and durable, it was the most practical solution for a work of immense scale. The saturation of pigment into paper as an instantaneous indelible record—with little or no over painting—continues and amplifies Hardy’s works with metal plates, sumi ink, and skin. The current works further explore pure autographic expressive gesture.
Immersed in Western as well as Asian art history, aesthetics, and theories of brushwork, Hardy has a long relationship with living and working in Japan. Along with the paintings are a new series of small porcelain sculptures. Made in collaboration with ceramist Trevor Ewald, these extend Hardy’s work done during several visits to Arita, Japan. There, at the invitation of a traditional kiln, he glazed production wares with unexpected themes, extending and subverting venerable tradition. The new ceramics are inspired by a series of his late ’90s paintings featuring garment forms from 15th and 16th century Northern European engravings (first studied in his undergraduate days at the San Francisco Art Institute) to which he added components of tattoo and pop themes.