Relevant Histories – Brenton Hamilton
If you want to mess with your head a bit, attend the opening on Friday, November 2, 5-8 of “Relevant Histories” up at Addison Woolley gallery on Washington St. in Portland.
Devoured (platinum metals and gum bichromate), 2012©Brenton Hamilton. All Rights Reserved
This show of Brenton Hamilton’s wonderful and weird works is a beauty, as co-curated by Bruce Brown and Jon Edwards, and the 22 works on display cover about 8 years worth of fearless mixing and matching of historic process picture-making: from cyanotypes to platinum with black gum bichromate to salted paper toned with gold, and everything in between…
Brenton teaches at Maine Media Workshops in Rockport and makes most of his works in the summer months, partnering with the sun. He loves gum bichromate washes, and I can just picture him, in another time, sitting on a stone bench under a tree on a summer day conversing eagerly with Edward Steichen, a master at using similar techniques to define his pictures.
The reason this will be a fun evening, along with Brenton’s talk about this show on Sunday, November 11, at 2, is you can try and pry the meanings of these works out of him. You’ll want to try, just because he so stubborn about giving that information up. They are eerie, honestly, for the most part. They are not random montages of this, that and the other. Brenton clearly has a train of thought about life that I’ve never experienced, and this is one time when I wish the artist would explain every piece in the show! Generally, I hate written explanations of visual art (what’s the point?), but in this case I sure would like to know the intricate references to mythology, history and the bizarre so I could get beyond the immediate impact of the images and their processes, to the next level of understanding. Dreams? Favorite texts? Life experiences? It’s all there, I bet you, in the headless statues, one-eyed portraits, and fairly recently, the inclusion of…birds.
Bottom line is, Brenton calls himself an inventor. He also admits he is deeply interested in the surrealists, as well as how history and fable collide, and where all of that takes his head. So jump on the train with him and see where you end up.
Spend some time pondering these works – the processes as well as the meanings. See if you can connect with the inspirations behind them. With a couple of glasses of wine at the opening, your insight may deepen. And a chat with Co-curator Bruce Brown is sure to provide enlightenment as well. However you approach it, it will mess with your head, guaranteed!
“Relevant Histories” opens November 2 and runs through December 1, 2012.