whitehot | October 2007, Lee Hutzulak, Liquid Smoke
LIQUID SMOKE @ Lucky's Gallery
A new collection of ink and felt marker drawings on paper.
Place a slim bottle of Liquid Smoke in the hands of a shamanic artist with a bent for channelling, then turn him loose with his sense of wry buoyancy for a year. Throw in a trip to Japan. This exhibition of 28 drawings on paper is the result of what happened next.
The opening of LIQUID SMOKE at Lucky’s offered an experience that was – as Lee Hutzulak intended - both surreal and metaphysical. The entirety of the compositional profundity comprised an intimate room full of vaporous silvers, demi-denser sumi-charcoals tinged with brown and luscious blacks. And, what astonishing sight-bites of colour he brings us! Divine Pink! Flesh Bronze! Edible Lime! Hutzulak delights in a Ginza-ish array via “fluorescent, iridescent and metallic inks in addition to a full complement of the CMYK spectrum.”
What else would we expect from a composer who wrote that “abstracts hiss and zip across the electrified midnight sound field”? Hutzulak’s exhibition is a continuum of his vibe but on paper, using small ensembles in a visual form of improvisation. Like his music, his drawings focus “on texture, tone and space … and all manner of extended technique.” He is an eclectic yet selective technician: delineations of freeze-framed movements; paganistic animal homage (Lascaux cave and indigenous Arctic art); axonometric perspective (the floating world of Ukiyo-e, a stylistic era where the observer is omnipotent); automatiste drawing; flood stains of Helen Frankenthaler and the well-sited lyricism that Robert Smithson exemplified.
With content that is both plugged-in and alive, Hutzulak is a wise guy who dotes on the independence of juxtaposed momentary occurences of a life, much like the film’s lead characters in ‘The Science of Sleep’ who meticulously observe, re-inventing rituals that allow themselves to connect with The Collective’s daydreams and nightdreams.
Hutzulak’s drawings are spacious, fragile and surgically strong as 18th century Indian miniatures. They’re also reminiscent of two later masters of line: Aubrey Beardsley’s serene pen and ink illustrations and Arthur Rackham’s intricate imagery. Hutzulak, like them, tells stories. As an example, for The Yolk of Meek Tone he writes, “Family reunion on Saltspring Island – 3 pregnant sisters!!! Butterfly fairies, pastel sunrises over a tree-lined lake. It’s not hard to imagine why so much creative expression from these oasises lacks a certain essential tension. After being back for a while I had to torch a peaceful Buddha figure on the left – fortunately he survived.”
Many of the drawings include dismemberment of hands and feet. They reference classical studies of marble sculptures, gestural mudras or Tibetan sky burial rites where each body part assumes an honouring of its function and awareness of its beauty. The extremities, especially the hands – often humorously gloved – become in a twist of Milos Kundera’s phrase, “the bearable lightness of being.”
Hutzulak incorporates paradoxical electronic gadgets – like a cell phone, iPod or game module – as separate extensions in which we connect with multi-dimensional sound and sight, including the non-physical spirit world. This contrariness elicited a laugh-out-loud moment on viewing the appliance in Transport is Arranged.
LIQUID SMOKE is quietly revolutionary work heating-up what drawing and the “instinctual act of image making” can be. Lee Hutzulak is indeed a shaman conjuring smouldering visual sophistication.
7 September – 3 October 2007
LUCKY'S GALLERY (back of Lucky's Comics)
3972 Main Street Vancouver B.C. Canada
604 875 9858
Noah Becker: Editor-in-Chief