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James Hyde is a painter who can rarely contain himself within two dimensions. His semiotic explorations of the medium have taken him in the direction of paint filled Plexiglass vitrines that approach the condition of sculptural installation, Styrofoam supports as deep as they are high or wide, and furniture. When he does play within a conventional painting support, as often as not found objects are affixed. But he will as good as ask you to step outside if you question his membership of the painting guild.
His latest series, on show at Pierogi 2000’s quirky Williamsburg/Greenpoint project space, the Boiler Room, is as flat as he’s been seen in quite a while. But the language games are anything but suspended. Now the play off is between the painterly and the photographic. The Stuart Davis Group are high jinks riffs on that jazzy abstract pioneer’s painterly syncopations upon commercial signage. Mr. Hyde has taken close-up photographic details of Davis’s almost confectionary-thick impasto and these he has blown up and printed on billboard material over which he has selectively painted shapes and areas with flat, even modulation.
The joke is quick to get: what reads as textured is flat, synthetic and photographic, while what registers as sheen is actually hand-applied. And yet the joke never falls flat as it proves the starting point of pictorially intelligent curiosity about shape, gesture and sign, and about intentionality.
Mr. Cohen, editor of artcritical.com, is art critic of the Sun.