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James Hyde Angles Gallery, Santa Monica, California
Jay Gould Stuckey

James Hyde, Lift, 1995

James Hyde's show at Angles Gallery was a very likeable one. Some folks I talked to dismissed the show as being cute, or lacking seriousness. But, since I happen to like cute shows, I spent some time with it. The work was direct and humorous. I've always felt that humor in art can be an effective tool because it can catch the viewer off guard. It entertains, and in doing so, can also make a powerful statement without seeming heavy-handed. Hyde does this.

The show consisted of four playful wall sculptures exploring the idea of mystery and concealment. This common theme creates a dialogue between the work, but also allowed each piece to examine the concept in a different way. sway, a steel box enclosed by a form-fitting cloth cover, is the most animate piece in the show. What really caught my eye was the way Hyde covered the box. The costume falls just short of touching the wall, leaving a small part of the steel structure's back edge exposed. I felt the work was teasing me, because I could see enough of what was being covered to wonder what the rest of the object looked like. curls was curious because the viewer sees a cover or costume that is tailored to fit a specific object, but the object does not exist. Instead, the sagging hood is tacked to the wall by itself. Oldenburg influences are obvious--but only in appearance--because Hyde presents us with a cover for an object, not the object transformed, as Oldenburg would. The piece made me question the relationship between the objects and their covers, and I began to think that the act of covering an object, or the idea of a disguise, was more important than the objects underneath.

Although the show appears only cute at first glance, Hyde successfully creates an entertaining visual environment that also provides a personal experience for the viewer. The simplistic shape of the objects alone could conjure up references to minimalist sculpture, but the veiling and subsequent mystery implied by the coverings had an endearing quality that made the work complex.

Jay Gould Stuckey

Los Angeles, California

1997

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