ALEX HUBBARD: Emergency Entrance
6750 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90038
In these most recent works, Hubbard continues to refine the improvisational approach to artmaking he has developed in painting, sculpture, and video over the last two decades. He has pared down his palette, limited the range of techniques at his disposal, and quieted the cacophony of imagery that had recently featured in his paintings. Here, there’s a greater emphasis on line and varied brushwork, pointing to a new direction in his practice.
For the seven paintings on view, Hubbard has taken chance or contingency as his point of departure. He began several of the paintings by laying his blank canvas on the ground and pouring vibrant hues of synthetic resins across the surface. Other works started with a hand-painted image of ordinary objects around the studio—the wheel of a dolly, a sheet of lined paper torn from a notebook, a picture of a missile he happened to be looking at. In each case, a compositional problem was formed, to which Hubbard responded in a variety of ways. For example, he occasionally added a hand-painted abstract shape that echoed or extended the arbitrary contours of a glossy pool of resin already on the canvas. Often, he has painted meandering lines that suggest a new and contradictory perspectival space within the composition. After painting with the canvas on the wall, he sometimes returned it to the floor of his studio to pour additional translucent veils of thinned paint across the surface.
Working without a predetermined plan, Hubbard continued to layer his composition until a precarious balance was reached and everything held together even as it felt on the brink of falling apart. Areas of the painting that read as background were often the last layers to be painted while shapes that seem to protrude in pictorial space were sometimes the first marks made. The materiality of the paintings’ surfaces, thick with hardened rivulets and pools of resin, chafes against the illusionistic pictorial space created through the artist’s use of line. In some works, the most thickly encrusted areas of the canvas have been painted over to appear as if they recede in pictorial space. All of this is exacerbated by Hubbard’s expert command of the spatial effects of color, a facility he has tested by limiting himself to a narrowly constrained palette within each individual work. These works conflate two disparate modes of symbolic address: the horizontality of the resin pours made on the artist’s studio floor and the vertical window of classical easel painting.
The result of these various strategies of spatial disorientation is a heightened dissonance between literal and pictorial depth that leaves the eye no place to rest, no firm ground on which to land. By displacing the picture plane—the transparent division between the illusionistic space within the painting and the real space in which the painting hangs—Hubbard’s paintings break with both the traditional conception of painting-as-window and a certain Modernist fetishization of flatness as the essential, defining condition of the medium.
— Benjamin Carlson
Alex Hubbard (b. 1975, Toledo, OR) received a BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 1999. In 2003, he attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. He lives and works in Los Angeles.
Hubbard has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham (2014); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2012); The Kitchen, New York (2010); Museo Experimental el Eco, Mexico City (2010); and Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2009). His works have also been featured in group exhibitions at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2022–2023); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2019); FRAC Poitou-Charentes, Angoulême (2018); Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles (2018–2019); Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels (2017); Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Greensboro (2016); Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach (2016); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015); Museo Experimental el Eco, Mexico City (2014); Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson (2012); Le Consortium, Dijon (2014); and the 2010 Whitney Biennial; among others.
Work by the artist is featured in the collections of numerous institutions, including Art Institute of Chicago; Colección Jumex, Mexico City; FRAC Corsica, Corte; FRAC Poitou-Charentes, Angoulême; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Seattle Art Museum; University of Chicago; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.