Keiran Brennan Hinton: Close at Hand
April 28 – June 16, 2019
By ANNA SCOLA, June 2019
One pauses in front of a corner space and a window looking out upon the impressions of a field. The space itself holds no particular beauty but in the wash of yellow that enters through the window, the ordinary is illuminated into something divine. The yellow and green overwhelm your periphery and then a simple lilac bouquet on the windowsill gently returns you back to Earth. This is Sun in an Empty Room by Keiran Brennan Hinton.
Keiran Brennan Hinton is the inaugural artist-in-residence at the James Castle House in Boise, Idaho. James Castle (1899-1977) was an artist from Idaho isolated from the art world. He was born deaf and learnt to communicate through drawing instead. Castle’s drawings were largely monochromatic charcoal renderings of the American farmland he was surrounded by. The subjects were the everyday exteriors as he observed them through the window in his shed. Sitting by the window of that shed, Hinton observes the same space, and yet captures a vastly different energy with color. Instead of detailing the landscape beyond the window, the outside world is but a floodlight that enlivens the space inside.
Hinton’s painting In the Light extends far beyond the edges of the canvas as the light brightens the domestic interior. The window seems to be the logical light source, and yet, the entire room glows with a heavenly presence. The space basks in the sunlight and its warmth is palpable. While there is a sailboat that is outlined by light, it could only be true to say that the figure in the painting exists as light itself. In Hinton’s work, this light is not a subject of the form it rests upon but is the very form that comes to be.
Hinton presents the spaces he inhabited during his residency in another series of smaller paintings. The lighting of these is less dramatic and the scale less subsuming. Instead, they are intimate snapshots of an aging room with peeling wallpaper, a broken window, and empty drawers. In his pastel sketches of the everyday like in Shed Corner and Closet, Hinton captures the essence of a home clearly possessed by time.
In a number of the paintings, there is a feather suspended in the air subtly embedded into the interior spaces. This is one of the elements that Hinton includes as a homage to James Castle. Castle would place a feather by the door as he worked in his shed to help him sense when someone came in. The silence of James Castle’s world is carried into these works forty years later. The depicted non-spaces contain memory and Hinton is able to genuinely capture a nostalgia of a past that he was not first privy to.
A motif of leaves reoccurs in this body of works. These leaves are not painted onto the canvas, but rather subtracted from it. They are carved out of the silhouettes leaving behind vivid imprints. Once again, it appears as though Hinton is painting with air. The impressions of the leaves fall over his scenes like a satin veil that glows from a single light source. Despite the stillness of the interior and the absence of human life, the space is not empty. What is shown in these works is not simply a place that one exists in, but a home that has been imprinted by the presence of who came before. WM
Anna Scola is an American and Russian artist, writer and curator based in Singapore and New York. As a practicing artist, Anna uses performance and installation to explore issues of identity and insecurity that arise from personal and socio-political relations to contemporary migration. As a curator, she has conceptualized and managed a number of exhibitions that create unique conditions for the artists and explore the potential of a gallery space.
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