The Hilton Brothers, "Heaven," 2009, Digital pigment photograph, 52" x 36"
Photo: courtesy Gebert Contemporary, Scottsdale
The Hilton Brothers are Christopher Makos and Paul Solberg. Individually, they are photographers who are equally at home in art galleries or magazine assignments; together they form a collaborative unit that makes composite works which affect a Pop mash-up with the combined effects of a Cornell box and an advertising layout. The result is not just slick--it's shiny. Though most often exhibiting in Europe, their show at Gebert Contemporary in Scottsdale seemed fitting for presenting what could be seen as one sort of post-New West sensibility. In the Hilton Brothers' composite photograph Heaven a swath of horse flesh, high clouds and flowers are matched with the male figure in repose. In Four Corners we see clouds again, this time reflected off an airplane tail fin, coupled with a distant mesa beyond a car's rearview mirror, and bits of silver gray plywood below. All melding expectation and memory, not just as fetishized bits but into landscapes-the great Western tradition from Ansel Adams to Mark Klett. Or travel brochures.
Their collaboration began seven years ago when they were traveling together, and copied each other's shots as a game; now Makos and Solberg shoot images separately, then combine two or more photographs together, borrowing freely from their individual series of single image works. The flower imagery often seen in the collaborations is taken from Solberg's recent Flower Deconstruct series. Close-ups of petals, cross-sections with stamen and pistil and a white imbued palette render these botanicals into an intermediate space between vegetable and mechanical. An earlier series, Andy Dandy, combines digitally altered shots of Andy Warhol taken by Makos, coupled with flowers by Solberg. Shot in China by Makos in 1982, the Warhol shots have been used in diptyches and a new large piece comprised of three rows of contact prints, a sort of Warhol slide show portrait. Whether individual images or composites, the imagery is always sumptuous, redolent of the commercial, and anything but naive.