Pieces of her presence | Max Hammond
thirty seconds of respite.
just enough time to,
ease the pain in her calves.
colorful bags piled at her feet,
she eases her toes from steep shoes.
a cup of expensive coffee
in a cheap foam cup,
steams in the light from an overhead window.
alone, behind sunglasses
her little sanctuary..
she sips with her eyes the guilty pleasure of
here they are, a parade of purposeful humanity.
possessing a direction of sorts
until, distracted by a giant photo in a window
of all things to fill their emptiness.
a vague roller coaster of chronology,
projects in need of completion.
Disembodied, they have a cadence…
the pluckish angel, the unaware, the entitled, the ones beaten up
one too many times by life.
opposite her is a divergence,
a rock in the stream
a dress with no pattern
faces in shadow
others, illuminated by so many sources
that features are indistinguishable from the background
from a window seat across the atrium
she feels a gaze
discomfited, she moves her eyes without turning her head…
a man in paint smeared clothes
In today’s art world, the term “abstract” is used abundantly, often with the assumption that abstract art is about nothing. However, artist Max Hammond does not view his work this way, nor does he want those who view his work to see it that way. For him, the word abstract is used too loosely, diluting the meaning of it.
For his upcoming show, Hammond hopes to visually educate viewers about his art and “abstract” art. It’s often assumed that abstract art and non-representational art are one and the same. However, he wants people to understand that, “abstract art is about something, it is abstracted from something.” In contrast, he defines non-representational art as a “more formal painting style that has an emotional base, yet is not abstracted from an object, figure or landscape.”
Max Hammond studied figurative painting while earning his bachelors degree from the University of Utah. There he received a very traditional training, with a strong focus on drafting skills, emphasizing classical figure drawing. Later, while working towards his M.F.A from Arizona State University, a professor made a suggestion. Noticing that Hammond’s work had a strong focus on formal elements, such as color, texture and line, his professor made a comment that he should remove the figure altogether and paint pure abstract.
Hammond took this comment to heart and started experimenting with a new style. This new, sculptural way of painting was exciting and freeing. At that point he did away with his old thesis and started over, creating a completely new thesis show. It wasn’t until several years later that he reintroduced the figure into his work. Since then, he has continued to experiment with abstracting his figures.
By placing two works, side-by-side, one abstracted female figure and the other completely abstracted to the point where the “figure is almost or completely lost in the paint,” Hammond is able to help the viewer understand his process better. In doing so, he is informing people that his work is not empty, but carefully constructed with a specific idea in mind.
For Hammond, the process of creating abstract art is not a linear process. He begins by sketching a basic layout for his painting and then roughing out the first layers. After that, the rest of his process is a constant balancing act, adding layer after layer and then reassessing and adding or subtracting more layers to maintain balance.
Hammond’s art is intended to have meaning further than just the emotions it evokes. How each viewer reads his work may vary, but his goal remains the same. He may be inspired by his wife, people watching as they go to lunch, or by the figures he sees walking down the street; but whatever the original inspiration, each painting he creates is has a meaning and a subject, whether identifiable or not, it is always about something.
Max Hammond’s show opens on November 7th at 6pm with a special artist reception until 9pm. On Saturday, November 9th, from 10-2pm Max Hammond will be in the gallery for a Conversation with the artist and will be talking more in depth about his new series and the concept behind it. His show will hang in the gallery through November 29th.