Kirk Hayes, "Covered Beast" (detail)
at the Horton Gallery
"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.
Both formally and conceptually the works in this recent exhibition are some of the artist’s most complex pictures to date. As a clever and darkly humorous culmination of Mr. Hayes’ masterful process, they also offer a sly commentary on the studio practice intertwined with the emotional contours of the artist’s personal narrative.
Kirk Hayes is a find…Bearing titles like “Float for the Cynically Melancholy” and “Rule by Fear,” Mr. Hayes’s works are more than just feats of clever craftsmanship. With their flat areas of muted color, varied textures and rectilinear designs, they are handsome formalist compositions. And while intimating bittersweet, obliquely autobiographical narratives, they slyly comment on modern art’s love of the raw and the naïve. - Ken Johnson, "KIRK HAYES: Launched To Sink." The New York Times, October 23, 2008.
Hayes' oil-on-signboard paintings present themselves as collages of torn paper and cardboard on plywood or metal supports, and the trompe l'oeil effects are so convincing that many viewers leave his exhibitions assuming that that is just what they have seen. The often humorous tableaux are populated by characters that obey the rules of modernist assemblage; we easily read their roughly "torn" components as arms, legs, bodies and heads. Hayes favors matte, dry colors, and he makes great use of pink, foamy green and gunmetal blue. Each false tattered edge, painted shadow, smudged scrap of paper and rusted piece of sheet metal is a visual delight. - Charles Dee Mitchell, Art in America, March 2000.
Hayes' trompe-l'oeil is instead a droll mockery of artistic media. You may think you're looking at the raw wood of his signboard surfaces, but Hayes has covered the real surface with smooth paper before deftly re-creating the same texture in oil paint…And from there, you can trust that nothing is as it seems -- not the look of metal, of fluid, of anything. He's not hiding the technique of painting, but highlighting the illusionary character of art itself and driving his angst-ridden points home by doing so. Hayes' version of tromp l'oeil owes more to graphic design and pop art than to older aesthetics, in the end looking like collage and packing the extra wallop of emotional baggage. - Christina Rees, "Master of Illusion," The Dallas Observer, October 14, 1999. "