Art-in-Buildings at 125 Maiden Lane
October 22, 2019 – March 31, 2020
Justine Hill’s exhibition Backdrops brings the artist’s most recent installation Standing (2019) and a selection of her series Heads (2018) to the lobby of 125 Maiden Lane. A painter that works primarily in shaped canvases she calls ‘cutouts,’ Hill’s work explores the visual and physical boundaries of the painted surface. The artist layers her shaped canvases with bold brushstrokes that at once emphasize and conceal their structure. In Standing, Hill pushes the surface of her painting even further into the realm of sculpture by pulling painted two-dimensional elements away from a canvas backdrop. Viewed from the front, the images flatten to create a landscape. From the side, they resemble a shallow theater set of an imaginary world. Informed by a ballet collaboration with choreographer Michelle Thompson Ulerich where Hill’s paintings were used as a moveable mis-en-scene for dancers, Hill began to consider the fluid nature of separating painted objects in space and creating physical depth in her work.
On the opposite side of the 125 Maiden Lane lobby is Hill’s earlier series, Heads. The artist describes these paintings as an attempt “to reclaim the white space behind her cutouts” by placing them on top of an unstretched canvas substrate. The resulting abstracted portraits are composed of two split layers, the headshot and the backdrop, which Hill seamlessly unifies through her intrepid application of color, effectively blending the inserted “heads” with their canvas frame. Pushing dimensionality even further, Hill’s installation at 125 Maiden Lane includes a custom printed wallpaper backdrop. Mirroring Standing’s conflation of the wall, the painting, and the foreground – this new installation of Heads equally considers all three elements. In Backdrops, Hill tests the realm of three dimensionality through a strictly two dimensional lens.