Hugh Steers

January 12 – February 16, 2013

Hugh Steers, installation view, Alexander Gray Associates, 2013

Hugh Steers, installation view, Alexander Gray Associates, 2013

Hugh Steers, installation view, Alexander Gray Associates, 2013

Bath Curtain, 1992

Oil on canvas

64h x 71.75w in (162.56h x 182.25w cm)

Blue Towel, Red Tank, 1988

Oil on canvas

66h x 71.94w in (167.64h x 182.72w cm)

Red Face Cloth, 1989

Oil on canvas

45.60h x 66.50w in (115.82h x 168.91w cm)

Door to Tub, 1993

Oil on canvas

65.10h x 44w in (165.35h x 111.76w cm)

Man and Bowl, 1993

Oil on canvas

60.20h x 37.10w in (152.91h x 94.23w cm)

Bedtime, 1990

Oil on gessoed paper

11.25h x 13w in (28.58h x 33.02w cm)

Falling Lamp, 1987

Oil on canvas

19.25h x 15.63w in (48.90h x 39.69w cm)

Purple Velvet Dress, 1989

Oil On Canvas

54.40h x 46.10w in (138.18h x 117.09w cm)

Boxes, 1990

Oil On Canvas

40h x 32w in (101.60h x 81.28w cm)

Handholding, 1990

Oil On Canvas

54h x 44.10w in (137.16h x 112.01w cm)

Throat, 1991

Oil on canvas

59.90h x 52w in (152.15h x 132.08w cm)

Innocent Man with Cleaver and Red Drape, 1989

Oil on gessoed paper

10.88h x 13w in (27.62h x 33.02w cm)

Press Release

Alexander Gray Associates was pleased to present its first solo exhibition of works by Hugh Steers, featuring paintings and works on paper produced from 1987–1993. Throughout his career, cut dramatically short by AIDS at the age of 32, Steers was celebrated for his allegorical painting that captured the emotional and political tenor of New York in the late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly the impact of Queer identity and the AIDS crisis.

Dedicated to figurative painting despite a hostile artistic climate, Steers deliberately experiments with the role of beauty, manipulating the medium to create palpable tension between visual appeal and raw content. Familiar interior spaces—the bathroom and the bedroom—provide the stage for Steers' complex narratives. In Purple Velvet Dress (1989), delineations of real and imaginary, ego and alter-ego, eroticism and isolation become blurred. Later, in works from the 90s, anxiety and mortality grow in presence, haunting the corpulent figures and casting a brutal glow onto the scene. Throat (1991) takes a more literal stance, depicting the torture of anticipation as illness looms imminent.

At once biographical and allegorical, the intimate domestic scenes on view employ a style deeply rooted in art historical tradition to depict contemporary issues with extraordinary immediacy. Recalling his influential American predecessors, including Thomas Eakins, Paul Cadmus, Marsden Hartley, and Charles Demuth, Steers renders tenderness, isolation, intimacy, and psychological dilemma through dramatic use of color, skewed perspective, and radiant golden light.