Cirrus Gallery is very pleased to present Give ‘Em a Little Bonjour, an exhibition of seminal works from the 1970s by Charles Christopher Hill. While some of the pieces in the exhibition have never been exhibited, this will be the first comprehensive look at the work Hill produced during this period. The show will be open from March 8 and will run through May 3, with a reception from 6 – 8pm on Saturday, March 8.
Charles Hill was an important figure in post-minimalist art in Southern California whose dilapidated and distressed surfaces from the 70s helped redefine painting in Los Angeles. Having received both is BA and MFA under the guidance of Vija Celmins, Craig Kauffman, Robert Irwin, and Ed Moses in the late 60s and early 70s, Hill was greatly influenced by his time at the University of California, Irvine. He and peers Chris Burden, Alexis Smith, and Barbara T. Smith helped distinguish the university as a hub for experimentation and a landmark in the development of Southern California art. In a move from hard-edged abstraction, Hill became interested in both the physical and aesthetic quality of newsprint, and the purposeful transformation of throw-away materials. He began stitching paper, cheesecloth and rags, only to see them buried in compost for several days. The result of this reductive process was a subliminal deconstruction of the act of painting; an act which was to be further reinforced by Paul McCarthy’s 1995 video, Painter, and one that was also shared by fellow artists Karen Carson, Ed Moses, Jay McCafferty, Allan McCollum, Robert Overby, Peter Plagens and Tom Wudl. These artists helped situate the unstretched works among a dialogue of other West Coast artists, such as the Fetish Finish and Light and Space artists, who similarly sought to challenge both the art market and the act of painting.
Charles Hill’s concerns echoed in many ways those of the Supports/Surfaces movement in the South of France. In 1977, Dr. Jean-Luc Bordeaux of Cal State Northridge and Jean-Francois de Canchy and Alfred Pacquement of the Centre Pompidou curated a show, Unstretched Surfaces. The exhibition, which was proposed by Peter Plagens and Robert Smith, paralleled both the social and material concerns of several LA artists to those of their French counterparts. The exhibition took place at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art and likened Hill’s work to that of Daniel Dezeuze and Jean-Pierre Pinceman.
Much of the material interests of the Supports/Surfaces and LA based artists from the late 60s and 70s are still witnessed today. Whether it’s by means of nature’s alchemy or the digital process, artists continue to evade the conventions of painting. As the exhibition title suggests, Give ‘Em a Little Bonjour can be seen as a timely look at the foundations of the current influx of material-driven abstraction, as practiced by young artists today.
Charles Hill was born in Pennsylvania and currently resides in Los Angeles. He has shown at Cirrus Gallery, Baudoin Lebon, Galerie Krebs, Centre d’action Culturelle de Saint Brieuc, Galleria Del Cavallino, and Leslie Sacks. His work can be found in a number of private collections as well as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou, TotalContemporaryArt Museum, in Seoul, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig in Wien, Austria and the Musée des Beaux Arts in Angers, France.