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Ihor Holubizky

Robert Hedrick, The Apollo Series 1974-75 (1996)

[ 422 words ]


From the early 1960s Robert Hedrick divided his time and interests between
painting and sculpture, as well as executing several sculptural commissions
for Temple Emmanuel, Toronto (1964-69); Expo '67; the University of Guelph
(1968-69); and the Department of External Affairs (1972). Hedrick's
painting and sculptural practice inform each other through a reductivist
sensibility which has consistently demonstrated a rigorous structure.
This is also evident in his pre-1960 'abstract-expressionist work', the organic
shapes in sculpture, and constructivist and minimalist tendencies in his
current work (and accepting that these terms are problematic with respect
to Hedrick's work — assuming a direct influence or imitation).

Ingrid Jenkner, curator of the 1990 Hedrick exhibition at the Macdonald
Stewart Gallery, Guelph, wrote that his SIGN paintings (since 1968),
indicate an 'objectness ... a quality arising from the shape and thickness
of the stretcher, and tonal rather strictly chromatic surface divisions.
They flirt with the question of a painting's ability to signify something
other than its status as an artifact of Modernist culture'. Artist Michael
Snow, who shared a studio with Hedrick in the early 1960s, wrote in the same
catalogue; 'The paintings are not commentary, they are constructions. As
discrete objects they will generate dialogue ... on a range of levels;
semiotic [that is, the work as a sign or signifier or ensemble of signs],
perceptual and psychological ... [and] provide an antidote for 'the news'
and to the general near-impossibility of quiet deliberation.'

The Apollo series indicates his concern with the perception, reception, and
nature of painting. More than illusionistic space, for Hedrick there is a
reference to lived experience — in this case, noon and evening — a view
and sense of Mediterranean light through a window. The colour therefore is
not fixed in the scale of chromatic absolutes, but tone which becomes
apparent over time. Hedrick's contribution to painting is to consider the
burden of proof, that which cannot be verified by science (the science of
colour, or geometry).

The Apollo series was first exhibited at the Jerrold Morris Gallery, Toronto,
in 1973. His text for the modest publication, in the form of concrete
poetry, summarizes his intent; 'To create a simple intelligent language
in which the pictorial grammar is primarily based on the study of light
(colour), Time (duration) and Rhythm (structure).' The Apollo series
provide a critical counterpoint to the history of Canadian painting — its so-called
transition from landscape to international style to post-structural mechanisms.

Text: © Ihor Holubizky. All rights reserved.


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