Roberts & Tilton is pleased to present James Hayward: AT LAST, a survey of monochromatic paintings exploring the disobedience of paint. James Hayward’s thickly rendered paintings are an immediate visual experience, bringing together color, gesture and materiality removed from all representational reference. Executed loosely in vivid hues, the gorgeously textured abstractions shift seamlessly between image, structure, and meaning. Paint can only be disobedient in the hands of someone not obsessed with control; here, Hayward offers a near perfect merging of picture and paint, with neither being dominant, where the emphasis remains on the painting rather than the painter.
The exhibition brings together single hued panels of red and optical white alongside two-panel diptychs of black and white. The conceptual clarity of the main exhibition space extends into a monochromatic room of red works against red walls. The genesis of Hayward’s single color room originated from the artist’s visit to the Tate Gallery, London, where he came across a painting donated by Matisse entitled Woman Having Her Hair Combed, hung in the position of honor: high, dead-center on the gallery wall, and impossible to miss. The painting depicted a young woman having her hair combed, painted thickly in oranges and reds, not unlike Matisse’s seminal The Dessert: Harmony in Red (The Red Room), 1908.
Within one color there exists phenomenal variations. An exercise in highly controlled specificity, Hayward’s defined focus on the monochrome remains the intellectual and emotional foundation in revealing the uncertain boundaries between representation and reality. Restriction to a visual two-dimensional plane offers continual renewals of possibility, refuting compromise.
To the viewer, the monochromatic painting’s color takes on meaning from the site in which it is placed. Upon first glance, this singular specificity appears deceptively simple. Hayward’s mark-makings refute hierarchy. Every subsequent marking is pivotal to the physicality of the work; applied gesturally only while Hayward stands, the brushstrokes are built up to the absolute edge of possibility only to then collapse downwards, a casualty of gravity. Hayward paints utilizing an imaginary grid whose ratios are constantly changing; paradoxically, in refusing a system of process, this act of randomness becomes an inherent system nearly impossible to detect. His paintings are phenomenological objects: completely self-referential, similar to a piece of music, confirmed only in the instant. As self-contained entities, the reception of the work is reflected within the work itself; that is, oriented on discovery.
Hayward has exhibited widely in numerous solo and group shows, including Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2011); Recent Paintings (curated by Mike Kelley), Cue Art Foundation, New York City, NY (2005); Awards in the Visual Arts 10, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C. (1991); Images of an Era, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (1996); James Hayward/Peter Lodato/John McLaughlin, Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (1979); and New Abstract Painting in Los Angeles: Cole/Hayward/Miller/Omar, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (1976). His work is held in numerous private and public institutional collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Denver Museum of Modern Art, Denver; Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo; Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Minneapolis; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; and the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, among many others.