Pit Land (Against Sea)
Curated by Monika Koencke Amorosa
23rd of February – 29th of March 2019
Opening: 22nd of February, 6 - 9pm
Working together as HIPKISS since their first encounter in the early 1980s, Alpha and Chris Mason (*both 1964) draw inspiration from seemingly disparate fields such as architecture, ornithology, punk, ecology, feminism, and entomology. Their work reflects a fascination with birds, landscapes (both human and natural), and the compositional elements of mathematics, a subtle balancing act between science and art. Addressing such themes as gender issues, politics, and sociology, their works are the visual transcription of a narrative born of an ongoing collaborative dialogue. Their meticulous drawing technique renders an organic texture which incorporates hidden discourses, private jokes, and fragments of the every day.
The central pillar of their latest project PIT LAND (AGAINST SEA) concerns the futility of a ‘battle’ - or even polarisation – between the two elements, both of which are fundamental and unavoidable. For this project, Hipkiss have chosen plant-inspired, rather than industrially themed motifs, including a handpicked selection of self-defensive kinds of weeds and wild plants such as Hogweed, Melancholy Thistle, Thornapple, Hedge Mustard - an instinctive response to the recent global reinforcement of patriarchy and the unpredictability of nature manifest in climate change. Using graphite, ink and gold leaf on paper, Hipkiss have opted for a vertical, totem or tower-like composition (with all its symbolism of the irrational, the man-made, the hubris that these might entail) and structured by a series of concentric elements that bring to mind the circular outlines of Robert Hooke’s 17th century microscopic observations as much as they recall the rotoreliefs of Marcel Duchamp. There is a clear homage to early botanical and natural history illustrators (Elizabeth Blackwell, Charles Plumier, Maria Merian) as well as pioneers and mavericks of photography (Anna Atkins’ cyanotype photograms and Blossfeldt's stripped-back masterpieces, for instance) – to all the women and men that freed the eye and mind to new perspectives and to new realities.
In this sense, PIT LAND (AGAINST SEA) can be seen as a response to the darkness, the misuse of power (physical, financial, political, religious) and the urge for destruction. It announces a gentler, less nihilistic revolution kindled by duality and partnership, a revolution which uses the best of humanity, male - female, dark - light, zero - sum, to conjure a new kind of strength that might restore biodiversity, the environment, and essentially dignity and equality within the human race.
The exhibition PIT LAND (AGAINST SEA) at Delmes & Zander explores the first part of the dichotomy within an extensive, ongoing project initiated by Hipkiss in 2018, and comprises 16 new works (Capitules, Instars, Imagoes).
* HIPKISS is the pseudonym of Alpha (*1964 in Widnes, UK) and Chris Mason (*1964 in Perivale, UK). The artists live and work in the south of France. Solo shows include Bulwark at The Drawing Center, New York, Drawings at INTUIT, Chicago and Mercury Springtime at John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan. Hipkiss have featured in group exhibitions at Tate Britain, London; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; La Maison Rouge, Paris; New Museum, New York; David Zwirner (System and Vision in collaboration with Delmes & Zander) and others. Works by Hipkiss are found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; FRAC Occitanie, Whitworth, Manchester and the Treger/Saint Silvestre Collection amongst others. Hipkiss are a three-time recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Award. Delmes & Zander has represented Hipkiss since 2005.