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Blair Saxon-Hill
Fourteen30 Contemporary, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer

Blair Saxon-Hill, "What is Lost," 2015, gravure book pages, ink on cotton rag, paper, clip, tack with pigmented cement and paper wrapped wire on monotype, 22 1/8 x 15"

Continuing through May 17, 2015

It’s apt that Blair Saxon-Hill’s mixed-media construction, “‘When He Prunes Objects’ — Jean Genet,” is titled after an essay by the late French writer, infamous for his alternately gruesome and erotic reveries on the human body. Genet’s conflation of dismemberment and sexuality finds a stylish reinterpretation in Saxon-Hill’s challenging new body of work, in which photogravures of disconnected body parts are reconnected by diverse media (tacks, thread, towels, clamps) and, crucially, by the viewer’s imagination. In the above-referenced piece, a paper clip pinches a finger on a photographed human hand; in “What is Lost,” a woman’s painted fingernails along with a suggestion of a breast and pubic hair counterweight a biomorphic gesture, which abstractly completes the fragmented female body.  

Then there is the audacious “Burt Reynolds/Hephaestus,” in which Reynolds’ 1972 “Cosmopolitan” centerfold is recontextualized vis-à-vis a breast-shaped balloon, a Leonard Baskin exhibition poster, a swatch of hand-painted fabric, and a panoply of other media. The picture plane protrudes sculpturally into the viewer’s personal space, linked by a red cord to an irregularly shaped pole. Not only does this bizarre boudoir fantasia cohere visually, it also exudes a winning whimsy that never curdles into preciousness. For all their formalism and pastiche, these works are unfailingly accessible, inviting us to fill in the blanks of their perversely abstracted grotesqueries of the corps humain.

Fourteen30 Contemporary

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