empathy

A Surprisingly Sculptural Girl Scout Cookie Drive

From the monumental, moving sculpture of a Monty Python-esque foot to small, multicolored lanterns hanging in the corner of Pace Gallery, California-based artist Tim Hawkinson’s exhibition is a whimsical trip into the artist's inventive sculptural process.  Known for working in multiple mediums, Hawkinson employs unexpected and unlikely materials such as grapefruit, pine cones and egg shells to investigate the intersection of nature and the human body.

GALLERIES: ENTER THE SWARM LIKE KNOCK KNOCK. WHO'S THERE? IT'S YOUR COVER STORY ON ARTPARASITES!

Like his witty decision to name all the sculptures in the exhibition after Girl Scout cookies, referring to his daughter’s Girl Scout cookie drive, a significant amount of Hawkinson’s chosen materials resonate with his personal life.  For example, many of the natural materials, such as palm fronds, come from the garden outside Hawkinson’s house in suburban Los Angeles, illustrating Hawkinson’s interest in the combination of the natural and the man-made.

Ventral view of Tim Hawkinson's "Kookaburra." Photo: Jillian Morrow

Perhaps best revealing Hawkinson’s use of natural materials, the sculpture “Kookabura” blurs the line between man and animal, as well as between the natural and the industrial. Resembling both a bird and a flying suit of armor, “Kookabura” features a long tail-like swoop of palm fronds, or palm tree leaves, which appear to be propelling the steel suit forward.  In addition to the scavenged palm fronds, the rivets in the armor are made out of acorns. Through Hawkinson’s deft manipulation of these seemingly random and disparate materials, he creates a sculpture full of movement, action and imagination.

Feeling The History Of The Body

Not only experimenting with a wide range of material, Hawkinson also utilizes his own body in his sculpting process, leaving a near ghostly record of the artist’s presence on his sculptures. While Hawkinson’s use of the body is not readily apparent on some of the sculptures, a closer look reveals his inventive corporeal technique. 

"Tagalong" by Tim Hawkinson. Image courtesy of Pace Gallery.

For example, the adorable sculpture “Tagalong” at first seems like merely a whimsical rendering of a seahorse and yet on more detailed examination, it becomes apparent that Hawkinson employed his own body to sculpt the ridges on the animal, creating the smaller ridges on the tail from his knuckles and the larger ridges from his elbows and knees.  Suspended from the ceiling of Pace Gallery, “Tagalong” represents the connection between the animalistic and the human, as well as a trace of the artist’s body.

Upper segment of "Samoa" by Tim Hawkinson. Photo: Jillian Morrow

Perhaps the most striking piece in the exhibition, and certainly the most memorable for its employment of the body, is “Samoa,” a jarring but conceptually rich bronze sculpture of a man wrapped in chains.  Even though the bronze seems rather conservative in comparison to Hawkinson’s collection of unique materials, his decision to cast his own body allows “Samoa” to transcend the basics of bronze sculpture. Even the chains covering the sculpture are modeled from the artist's own form.  A startling and shocking depiction of man’s entrapment by his own senses and physical body, “Samoa” reveals Hawkinson’s distinctive experimental, conceptual and playful technique that pervades the Pace exhibition.

  • Pace Gallery – “Tim Hawkinson" – May 3rd to June 29th, 2013 –Tue-Sat: 10am-6pm [Price range of works: $60,000-$225,000] 

Article by Emily Colucci