Kirk Hayes: Recent Trompe l'oeil Paintings

1 September - 2 October 2010
Installation Views
Press release

The gallery is pleased to present the European solo debut of Texas-based American painter Kirk Hayes. On the surface, Hayes' compositions appear to be collages of torn paper, corrugated cardboard, yellowing masking tape, or scraps of plywood, however these illusory scenes are created by the artist's hand through a self-taught process of using oil paint to imitate collage.


Although Hayes' method of painting is distinctly contemporary, the artist draws reference from thousands of years of art history, from Renaissance masterpieces to Roman mural painting, through both his trompe l'oeil technique and through his historical allusions. In a contrasting vein to First-Style Pompeian frescoes, in which Roman painters sought to create the illusion of expensive marble with lesser materials, Hayes seeks to create the illusion of lower-grade materials with the use of oil paints, duping the viewer’s eye on the surface.


Hayes' paintings are lightly sinister; the scenes and actions represented are beautifully simple, such as a Monarch butterfly landing on a knife's edge or a man dancing on a chair, yet they often portray a darker tone. Five cartoonish, smiling worms crawl through a decaying skull in Happy Worms, where Hayes refers to the classic vanitas motif, reminding us that death is inescapable. Napoleon In The Russian Snow, shows the infamous French general slumped over his white stallion, buried deep in a stale field of bloodied snow. In contrast to Jacques-Louis David's idealized portrait of the French Emperor crossing the Alps, Hayes imagines the portrait after Napoleon's unsuccessful invasion into Russia, veraciously portraying a defeated, lifeless body rather than the triumphant hero that is traditionally recognized in art history.


Kirk Hayes (b. 1958, Fort Worth, TX, USA) lives and works in Fort Worth, TX. In addition to Horton Gallery, his work has been featured in exhibitions at the Nerman Musuem of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS; the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX; Greenberg Van Doren Fine Art, New York; and Conduit Gallery, Dallas. His work is included in public collections such as the Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art, Dallas TX; The Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX; and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS. Hayes is a recent recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant. His work has been discussed in Art in America and The New York Times, among others.