While I have not seen this body of work in person, I participated in an exhibition with Patrick earlier this year at the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago. The exhibition entitled From Motion to Stillness was co-curated by Didi Menendez, Publisher, Editor and Creator of Poets and Artists and Sergio Gomez, Gallery Director of the Zhou B Art Center. Patrick chose to exhibit his work from his series Equivalent Exchange in which he resides on a high pedestal using his own nude figure presented as a sculptural form in semi-classical or traditional nude figure poses as if stepping onto a stage in order to be drawn or painted by a class full of students or in context of the exhibition, an audience of public gallery-hoppers. His work makes a powerful human connection utilizing masses of bodies and fleshy paint, usually composed in larger-than-life scale and mostly with singular and double bodies as the main source of content.
His work touches on power, identity, race, gender and politics.
While his new work in Significant Other strikes a cord with these themes they also seem to amplify his progressoin in tackiling larger narratives within the western canons of life, death, and mortality, while also addressing very contemporray issues of race, gender politics, domesticity and relationships.
Indeed, I see many of these pieces as being a contemporary and domestic representation of the ELEVATION and the DESCENT from the cross.
In all four (4) of Hammie’s images (posted above) ordered only for my particular translation and no other purpose, we see references to a female figure who is in various states of holding, mourning and struggling with the body of her male counterpoint. Both figures are nude and reenact what may be perceived as a great physical and spiritual struggle of holding on or letting go as one’s love or life transitions away from the other (in death or otherwise).
In House of Cardswe are brought in close and tight as the two figure struggle through a sort of contemporary dance. A moment and movement caught from a low vantage point allows you to travel up the male form past his manhood stretching over the breadth of his chest where his meets hers and then deep into a pocket of the female form under her right breast and arm which suspends his dead weight. In fact you lose the male head/identity almost altogether and in its place the woman’s head is centered as she reaches over and through and down carrying his body weight. With Herculean strength and as the solitary “living” figure she is solely focused on the sacred deposition.
Aureole presents us with a modern Pieta. The triangular composition is made more complex with the male figure lying frontal like a facade or a bas-relief anchoring the full breadth of the lower canvas. The female form reaches over the male figure, her right arm on his chest, her hand touching his breast and shoulders forming a square through which with great concern she seeks his attention and life and care. His body still serving as an anchor from where she stabilizes her form and reaches while her other arm is in an act of compassion and touch. His sleep implies death, but his genitalia and the shadow that stretches up his lower belly implies life and resurrection .
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Labor I provides us with perhaps the most distant narrative of the 4 compositions. The male body has already been laid out, straightened and made to be wrapped. He extends at a slight angle from the lower left side of the composition and narrowly skims the bottom of the canvas. There is a thrust of his arms that reaches up to hers through an extension, and seemingly a last breath, as she continue to prepare his body. She extends from his tangled arms reaching up, attempting to stand, but still in the act of letting go, and/or preparing for his deposition.
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In Nightwatch, the woman looks outside the canvas (the only of the 4) as if to plea for assistance from some onlooker, while the male has already transitioned to a sleep with just his head and shoulders residing in the bottom leftt corner quadrant of the canvas. He is aglow in the light and slumber of his peace while the female figure struggles alone forming another pyramid that anchors the composition and allows us to arch and rise into her form and lonely trial. All of the heat pulls into her centered form and the cool cold reality engulfs her past and future.