January 2009, New Work by Teun Hocks @ PPOW
Teun Hocks, Untitled (tied down) 2007 49.5 x70 Courtesy of the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York, NY.
New Work by Teun Hocks
511 West 25th
Street Room 301
New York, NY 10001
January 8 – February 7, 2009
Given the current malaise of New York’s art market, it is quite surprising to see an exhibition that is not only at the right place but also at the right time. Teun Hocks’ selection of new photographic work at the PPOW Gallery presents the continuation of this Dutch artist’s personal, mysterious narrative. While satire is nothing new to Dutch art either, Hocks combines irony with fantasy to create mundane yet surrealist scenes that feature himself in Buster Keaton-like situations searching for the impossible while marveling at the unthinkable.
Contrary to what one might surmise, none of these images were digitally reproduced with any well-known computer graphics program. Instead the elaborate settings reflected in each image were constructed inside Hocks’ studio, with him posing in character. The artist then created a sepia-tone document of fabricated moments, which he then filled in meticulously with oil paint. “Untitled (tied to ground,” (2007) for instance, portrays the artist in a dapper suit while trying to break free of the ropes that tie him to the ground. The subtle hues of gray and green lend this work a slight, other-worldly feel. In fact the surface appears just real enough to be believable while the subject matter itself is clearly staged.
After watching Hocks’ toil away in his own dystopia, his subject matter becomes ours and his suggested realities become our own. “Untitled (moon),” (2007) features the artist walking blindfolded across a barren gray surface that is set against a black background. The only element of cheer that can be gleaned from this sense of loss is the party hat attached to Hocks’ head. “Untitled (Alarm),” (2007) captures a harvest of small alarm clocks that have just bloomed above fresh soil as the sun sets in the distance.
Hocks deconstructs photographic realism such that the experiences seen here are not signs of particular events that carry a common impact somewhere else. However these endless moments of confusion and denial successfully tie into our own reality as experienced during this economic downturn. For once, the subjective moment portrayed by Teun Hocks carries the same weight as the daily news while not bearing any reasonable connection to our world, only hinting at the recent turn of dramatic events such as the fire experienced at the PPOW Gallery the night before this show’s opening. A fire that led to the destruction of six to seven drawings that were intended for this exhibition.