In the Near Field
Piano keys, a feather, a belt buckle, what might be a meat thermometer, and the illusionistic brass swoop of a trombone all drift through Alex Hubbard’s paintings—and might be some of the only recognizable features in them. Like music itself, his canvases are un-illusionistic but somehow rhythmic, with harmonies which form and, especially, dissipate, shimmering on the edge of recognition but always shrinking back from that edge. In “In the Near Field,” an exhibition of new work for his fourth solo show with Eva Presenhuber, Hubbard presents paintings as well as a hand-rigged video projector.
The oil—and Urethane, fiberglass, epoxy resin, and UV printing—on canvas painting Machine Learning (2021), for instance, includes a series of what may be faces: round eyes and a slash of a nose, rendered in a bright palette. But they seem to be only half-processed, fed through a brain that has lost its ability to arrange visual stimuli into a coherent narrative, or perhaps, like the title of the work suggests, never fully developed that capacity. That theme of disordered and defanged technology continues with Projector 5 (2020-2021), a somewhat worrisomely jerry-rigged contraption wheezing with the effort of depicting blurry images of work by early Modernists such as de Chirico and Man Ray. The order of that era, Hubbard suggests, is over.
Alex Hubbard, Bad Therapy, 2021. Urethane, fiberglass, epoxy resin, UV printing and oil on canvas, 42 x 47 x 1 1/2 inches. © Alex Hubbard. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich / New York. Photo: Lance Brewer.