Daniel Hutchinson: Paintings for Electric Light

Daniel Hutchinson, Painting For White Light, 2013. Oil on Panel with Fluorescent Light and Wood. Courtesy of the artist

Reminiscent of ultraviolet rays, gasoline rainbows, and northern lights across dark night skies, Daniel Hutchinson’s exhibition at YYZ entitled Paintings for Electric Light features a luminous series of black, light sensitive paintings with a spectrum of florescent lights shining from various angles. Mysterious and enigmatic, Hutchinson relies on the play of light across the texture of his brush strokes to reveal the hidden movement and patterns within his paintings’ seductive black surface. Produced through a meticulous consideration of the gallery space’s architecture, Hutchinson’s geometric compositions only come to fruition when paired with their bright neon counterpart. Light bounces off the vinyl-like canvas and forces the viewer shift their physical position in order to uncover the entirety of the work. In doing so, Hutchinson defies a singular perspective by allowing viewers to experience the work from multi-faceted dimensions, an appropriate strategy for depicting the fleeting nature of light. As a result, the paintings are ever-changing. The highly reflective surfaces and carefully calculated light angles allow the viewer to encounter a new image each time they shift their spatial position.

Daniel Hutchinson, Painting For Coloured Light (Cyan and Magenta), Painting For Coloured Light (Analogous Colour), 2013. Oil on Canvas with Fluorescent Light and Wood. Photo: Sabrina Russo. Courtesy of the artist

Paintings for Electric Light carries on a similar discourse to those begun by Flavin and Le Witt. Although certain light show attributes are present within this collection of works, Hutchinson’s style extends beyond a technical achievement. In consistency with Hutchinson’s artistic practice, this exhibition displays a controlled colour scheme and demonstrates a continuation of the artist’s investigation in monochromatic painting and optical perception. However, Hutchinson has now abandoned the allegiance to representation that his paintings have always maintained. After attempting to capture the effects of water in a previous series, Hutchinson has begun exploring a subject that is even more elusive. Here, the artist has included the refraction of colour in a literal sense to unite all the elements which constitute our perception of light. Paintings for Electric Light embraces a geometric abstraction that defines light as its primary subject and possess a sculptural component which extends the reading of the work from being solely categorized as painting. Due to the use of high-gloss paint which allows for immense depth and movement, Hutchinson’s works immerses the viewer in a heavenly neon glow. By working with a limited palette, Hutchinson uncovers a sublime aesthetic within in the darkness through a unification of temporal light and painted surface, ultimately creating a statement on the power of ephemera and subtlety.

Shellie Zhang

* Paintings for Electric Light runs till August 10th, 2013 at YYZ Artists’ Outlet, 140-401 Richmond St W. Gallery hours: Tues – Sat 11  – 5 p.m.

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