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In his “plaid paintings,” Hyndman overwhelms/oversaturates the weave of the canvas with a paint body that reconstitutes the woven grid as a more dynamic and complex matrix. Within this paint body, he merges plaid grids with digitally-born topologies of “fabric” to resurrect the buried weave in an enhanced and codified zombie form—a form kept active by the play of light on the textured surfaces and the illusory trappings of the images and 3-D computer animation space in general.
All of Hyndman’s plaid paintings since 2008 have been based on stills from digital animations, most of which have been inspired by the 1960s television cartoon Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties. Typically, he replaces characters in the Dudley scenes with lengths or tubes of plaid fabric which move around in ways faithful to the original cartoon action, but also respond to the pull of simulated gravity and the cloth physics provided by animation software. Hyndman makes his source animations using Autodesk Maya, a program used to simulate objects, spaces, motion and variety of material, particle and lighting effects for video games, television and film. Until recently, nothing in the finished paintings visualized their connection with the Dudley cartoons. And while Hyndman insists that the relationship between the texture, color and materiality of the paintings and their birth in digital space remains his primary concern, paintings like Mizuno (2012) and Nell and Cassandra (2013) include some cartoon forms.
“For this exhibition," Hyndman writes, "I’m making two pairs of paintings, one pair to activate the North-South axis of the gallery and a second pair to activate the East-West axis. Each pairing features a ‘plaid object,’ patterned with the tartan of a picturesque US-Canada border area (Niagara Falls and the Thousand Islands). The compositions are inspired by scenes from 60s-era Dudley Do-Right cartoons and share greater visual affinity with types of animation space (both old and new) than they do with the picturesque spaces suggested by the tartan names.
I hope that the spaces in these new paintings, combined with their installation in the institute's gallery, will activate the room in a way that speaks some of the subtle and difficult-to-articulate experiences of being a Canadian living in the United States. I am bemused by the Canadian stereotypes suggested in the Dudley Do-Right cartoons, not least because the cartoons are the creation of Americans and were often animated in Mexico. Lately, I have been thinking of the Dudley character as a mascot of sorts for my painting practice, noting similarities that I see between his mannered and blind faithfulness to the ‘Mountie way’ and Canadian attitudes about ‘rightness,’ and my own belief in painting as a valuable and worthwhile pursuit.
More broadly, I hope this exhibition can prompt thinking about the surfaces of images—particularly digital images/devices—by means of making the textured surfaces of the paintings and their pictorial spaces a determinant characteristic of the exhibition volume and one’s experience therein."
Chris Hyndman is a painter born in London, Ontario. In 2010 he moved his studio to Chicago, where he spends much of his time when not teaching. Recent shows include exhibitions at the Susanne Hilberry Gallery and the U-M Residential College Gallery. Chris has been a faculty member at Eastern Michigan University since 2001.