An exhibition of Billy Hassell paintings and lithograph prints entitled Illuminating Nature opens at the Tyler Museum of Art in Tyler, Texas on Sunday, December 15th (and closes March 23, 2014).
Those familiar with Hassell’s work will recognize the singular world view he brings to life in scintillating colors.
But in this exhibition, Ken Tomio, curator of the Tyler Museum, selected pieces that highlight Hassell’s layering of visual space and patterns.
In Origins (1993), the background, the fish, and the bison create three distinct layers. In the shape or silhouette of the bison, a deliberate ambiguity exists in the patterning; the shape of the bison sits in the foreground while the patterning and the white polka-dots on the bison can be read as a starry sky.
In Full Flower Moon (2013), Hassell creates three layers of pictorial space — the starry sky, the cholla cactus with flowers and the most prominent image, and the ladder-backed woodpecker.
The stars in the night sky background establish a polka-dot pattern that’s carried throughout the painting and echoed in the orange spine bases of the cactus and in the patterning on the woodpecker.
The effect of the “dots” distributed throughout the composition serves to unite the three layers of space and at the same time animates the composition.
Aside from paintings characterized by layers of space and patterning, Tomio selected a few paintings that feature landscapes.
These pieces are based largely on watercolor journals Hassell keeps on his travels.
Two of these landscapes, Alligator and Egret and Spring in East Texas, were selected for their regional significance and feature flora and fauna native to East Texas.
If you are in the Tyler area, this show is well worth a visit.