Harmony Hammond

May 19 – June 25, 2016

Harmony Hammond, installation view, Alexander Gray Associates, 2016

Harmony Hammond, installation view, Alexander Gray Associates, 2016

Harmony Hammond, installation view, Alexander Gray Associates, 2016

Harmony Hammond, installation view, Alexander Gray Associates, 2016

Harmony Hammond, installation view, Alexander Gray Associates, 2016

Harmony Hammond, installation view, Alexander Gray Associates, 2016

Harmony Hammond, installation view, Alexander Gray Associates, 2016

Harmony Hammond, installation view, Alexander Gray Associates, 2016

Harmony Hammond, installation view, Alexander Gray Associates, 2016

Witness, 2014

Oil and mixed media on canvas

90.25h x 70.50w x 3d in (229.24h x 179.07w x 7.62d cm)

White Rims #1, 2015

Monotype on Twinrocker paper with metal grommets

47h x 33.50w in (119.38h x 85.09w cm)

White Rims #2, 2015

Monotype on Twinrocker paper with metal grommets

47h x 33.50w in (119.38h x 85.09w cm)

White Rims #4, 2015

Monotype on Twinrocker paper with metal grommets

47h x 33.50w in (119.38h x 85.09w cm)

White Rims #7, 2015

Monotype on Twinrocker paper with metal grommets

47h x 33.50w in (119.38h x 85.09w cm)

Naples Grid, 2015

Oil and mixed media on canvas

80.25h x 54.50w x 3d in (203.84h x 138.43w x 7.62d cm)

Red Stack, 2015

Oil and mixed media on canvas

80.25h x 50.50w x 2.50d in (203.84h x 128.27w x 6.35d cm)

Things Various, 2015

Oil and mixed media on canvas

80.25h x 54.25w x 5d in (203.84h x 137.80w x 12.70d cm)

Trace, 2015

Oil and mixed media on canvas

80.25h x 54.50w x 2.50d in (203.84h x 138.43w x 6.35d cm)

Bandaged Grid #1, 2015

Oil and mixed media on canvas

44.25h x 76.50w x 2.50d in (112.40h x 194.31w x 6.35d cm)

Ledger Drawings Suite A, 2015

Ink on paper in 5 parts

11.75h x 9.50w in (29.85h x 24.13w cm)

Ledger Drawings Suite A, 2015, detail
Ink on paper
11.75h x 9.5w in (29.8h x 24.1w cm)

Ledger Drawings Suite B, 2015

Ink on paper in 5 parts

11.75h x 9.50w in (29.85h x 24.13w cm)

Ledger Drawings Suite B, 2015, detail
Ink on paper
11.75h x 9.5w in (29.8h x 24.1w cm)

Press Release

Alexander Gray Associates presented its second exhibition of work by Harmony Hammond (b.1944), including paintings, monotypes and ink drawings dating from 2014 to the present. A pioneer of feminist and queer discourse, Hammond’s earliest feminist work combined gender politics with post-minimal concerns of materials and process, frequently occupying a space between painting and sculpture—a focus that continues to this day. Her thick near-monochrome paintings of the last decade participate in the narrative of modernist abstraction; at the same time they insist on an oppositional discourse of feminist and queer content. Their focus on materiality and the indexical, suggesting topographies of body derive from and remain in conversation with her feminist work of the 1970s.

In her recent paintings featured in the exhibition, Hammond grommets a field or grid of holes into her canvases. Layering patches of fabric, straps and grommets intermittently with oil paint, she builds textured near-monochromatic surfaces of earthy reds, deep-blacks, dusty beiges, and creamy whites, activated by light and cast shadow. The gridded field of grommeted holes physically opens the painting surface alluding to layers, spaces and histories buried below as well as body orifaces. A close examination of what at first glance might appear to be minimal monochrome grid paintings, reveals a disturbance or rupture as underlying layers of color are visible through cracks, crevices and holes, interrupting both surface and grid.  For Hammond, “It’s about what’s hidden, muffled, covered up or over, pushing up from underneath, asserting itself, suggesting agency and voice.”

In Bandaged Grid #1 (2015), the most recent painting in the exhibition, she applied fraying strips of leftover canvas to evoke a bandaged body, noting, “a bandage always implies a wound. A bandaged grid implies an interruption of the narrative of the modernist grid and therefore, an interruption of utopian egalitarian order...a precarity. But also, however fragile, the possibility of holding together, of healing.” 

Works on paper are also a key part of Hammond’s oeuvre. The irregular surfaces she achieved in her paintings are present in her grommeted monotypes, which art writer Lucy Lippard calls grommetypes. Linking the works on paper to her painting practice, she comments, “It’s about accumulation, not blending.” Also on view are two suites of Hammond’s Ledger Drawings (2015), text-based drawings on ledger book pages. In these works, Hammond’s practice as a critic and art historian becomes self-reflexive. The drawings repeat words and phrases that the artist has noticed used to denigrate late-career, female artists—“obsolete,” “vintage,” “your generation,” “dragon lady,” “get your due,” and “diva.” Re-inscribed on paper originally intended to inventory commodities or services, Hammond exhausts the words’ intended meaning, rendering them powerless, and reclaiming these phrases on her own terms.