Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

Resist: Inauguration at Una Gallery
Early February links
First Thursday Picks February 2017
Dead tree media & dead horse flogging news
Post Snowpocalypse Weekend Picks
More Disjecta'd
New Year opportunities
Monday Integrity Links
First Thursday Picks January 2017
Jason Berlin + Alanna Risse at Rainmaker
Saying goodby to 2016
Mid December Links

recent comments

Patrick Collier
kris hargis

categories

 

Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Essays
Interviews
News
Openings & Events
Photoblogs
Reviews
Video
Links
About PORT

regular contributors

 

Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman

archives

 

Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us

 

Contact us

search

 


syndicate

 

Atom
RSS

powered by

 

Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a

 

Creative Commons License

Thursday 03.10.11

« Second Weekend Picks March 2011 | Main | Joseph Koerner lectures at Reed »

Kris Hargis' Me and You at Froelick Gallery

HRG147_AllIsWell.jpg
Hargis' All is Well

Thirty-plus years ago, governmental social policies started to change and budget lines began to shrink for everything from inpatient and outpatient health care for veterans to arts programming. Religious organizations (in the case of welfare services) and charitable foundations were given the task of filling the gap. Even for wealthier trusts, this meant that dollars needed to be efficiently stretched. The outcome was that if arts organizations wanted funding, they had to meet new criteria. These criteria centered on attracting, or more precisely, serving a wider audience. A chamber quartet could no longer hope to get funding to simply bolster their budget for a series of concerts that only their well-to-do season ticket holders would enjoy. Instead, they had to develop educational programs and perform/inform in library atriums for busloads of school children. The same held for dance troupes and the like. At about the same time, we increasingly found tomes of information about exhibits appearing on art museum walls. An over-simplified timeline shows much attention has been given in the arts community to their new role, eventually taking the responsibility as credo. Art becomes a social contract, and the understanding and appreciation of art forms is made available to the public at large. All well and good, with the caveat that meaning and appreciation can be suggested but not directed.

Re-consider the impresario, confronted with this new standard put upon his heretofore-insular world. Perhaps individual suffering or sacrifice means less, given the needs of others, and in order to continue in the au courant graces of audience and patronage, it may behoove one to give a nod of acknowledgement, or a sign that one is capable of compassion. It is this sign of humanity, not persistent cynicism that is to everyone’s benefit. In the process, the tortured creative soul discovers the self-portrait is not unlike the faces of those gazing back.

HRG156_ToTheHills.jpg
To The Hills

Kris Hargis has begun this journey of discovery, or so the press release for his current show at Froelick would have us believe, “turn(ing) his attention to the trials faced by service members as they return from the battlefield to everyday life.” However, a qualification remains, for the very next sentence lists self-portraits as part of the exhibition. And so, we try to determine signs of his development from self-examination to the portrayal of another. In fact, titles and a saluting figure in “To the Hills” aside, there is very little in Hargis’ paintings that immediately suggests he has sought out the living casualties of war to document their suffering, unless it is a generalized personal pain that has haunted his paintings for years.

meandyou_hargis.jpg
Me and You

Horrors often beget detachment, yet there is no despondency evidenced in Hargis’ handling of media in his dynamic paintings; and here is where we may be more conciliatory toward the stated commentary behind this current work. In the piece from which the show is titled, “Me and You,” the artist extends his left hand to the edge of the paper to where the canvas awaits. His gaze is fixed on the viewer in a close study, while his right hand either fondles or covers his genitals at the bottom of the paper. He is aware of another’s presence and it is erotic. The Other is more present in “Us,” in which a male and female sit next to one another. Both are naked, yet the female form is without arms and legs, the bones exposed within the hacked-off thighs. Her pain has been caused, perhaps by an incomplete understanding, or even by contempt. The world with which Hargis begins to come to terms (me and you as opposed to you and me) is still young, molten.

HRG135_Us.jpg
Us

Hargis has a signature style, one borne more from repetition of a technique than originality. The fluid, sometimes haphazard lines and pushed paint herald back to fifty years ago when everyone in a drawing class learned the 30-second life portrait and then called it art. That said, very little back then actually was quality work, nor was it developed with the same insight to the troubled soul that one finds with Hargis. You want grotesquerie and pain? Hargis’ subjects greet you with steely-eyes that could kill; others look away afraid, or, as in “All Is Well,” exhibit a numbed complacency. Hargis unflinchingly shows us a world where relief and redemption are hard to find. But noting the life-size formats of “To the Hills” and Remembered and Forgotten,” he is getting closer to others.

Which necessitates a return to the press release:

… a small bird grips a fragile branch which blooms around him; flowers wilt, captured in their last moments before dropping to the ground. Hargis, with simplicity and restraint, takes the viewer on a journey through dark and vulnerable places, and ultimately shows them to be a source of strength, beauty and cause for hope.

Need for social relevance is generated from a lack, whether an injustice or the desire for inclusion and recognition. Hargis’ portraits are social only to the extent that they successfully emote the dark side of what it means to be human. (So grim are these paintings, we are satisfied with the withered flower arrangement and meet the finch with glee, glad to know that it may still be alive.) In this time of a growing art collective consciousness of sorts, Hargis still predominantly stands alone, but calls out, “This is me seeing the world. And, by and large, that world sucks.” There is no turning that view on its head to see the bright and shiny, unless, as Hargis has begun to realize, we can take comfort in knowing we’re in it together.

HRG151_RememberedAndForgotten.jpg
Remembered and Forgotten


Hargis takes us into the darker places of human suffering. Yet, that darkness can also be less a place of fate’s pain than the unknown: the mysteries of life waiting to unfold; and one supposes, herein we might aspire toward some hope. Painting through to that place might be one way to go about it, and reinforcing that notion, Froelick has serendipitously given us another view on that bleak but sustaining pursuit in the work of Miles Cleveland Goodwin. His paintings are an alchemical mix of Odd Nerdrum meets Ingmar Bergman, and merit a tarry.

Posted by Patrick Collier on March 10, 2011 at 9:17 | Comments (2)


Comments

hello patrick, kris hargis here. i came across your writing the other day and have read it countless times. i am a visual person, although compelling, i am not sure i am able to grasp everything you've written as you may not be able to grasp everything i've drawn. then again, maybe that is unimportant. regardless, if you have any interest in meeting up to discuss your review and my exhibition, let me know. this may not be the norm for you, as it is not for me as far as critiques go , but i feel obligated to represent my work to the dust!

Posted by: kris hargis [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 16, 2011 09:01 AM

Kris, I'd be happy to meet with you. ptcpatrick at gmail.com

Posted by: Patrick Collier [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 16, 2011 11:30 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?


s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee