Gregory Euclide: Preservation Paradox at Hashimoto Contemporary

Shotgun Review

Gregory Euclide: Preservation Paradox at Hashimoto Contemporary

By Max Blue October 2, 2018

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Max Blue reviews Grergory Euclide: Preservation Paradox at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco, California.

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Preservation Paradox, Gregory Euclide’s aptly titled solo exhibition at Hashimoto Contemporary, presented viewers with a study in contrasts: between abstraction and figuration, repurposed and traditional materials, and nonclassical and highly classical approaches to the genre of landscape painting. These motifs define an increasingly ubiquitous brand of commercial Pop surrealism. Euclide’s unique strength, however, resides in his ability to engage environmental issues by incorporating found materials.

Constituting the majority of the work on display, the artist’s Scrape series portrays nature in as few strokes and sculptural elements as possible. Some of the most successful, such as Scrape 5 and Scrape 9 (both 2018), evoke miniature worlds composed of Styrofoam and collected twigs floating atop a thick smear of paint. These scenes depict a world built on refuse, positing a disruptive, even destructive, relationship between humans and nature.

Gregory Euclide. Scrape 5, 2018; acrylic and organic matter on paper; 28 x 19 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Hashimoto Contemporary.

Four complex compositions offer balance to the Scrape series. Densely layered works such as Yard (2018), a graphite rendering of a freight yard surrounded by a whorl of paint with bits of tree bark, provide pictorial relief that complicates the landscape genre through abstraction while displaying an acute illustrative skill. Here, Euclide relies on a facility for rendering, rather than the recycled materials used in other works, to represent a postindustrial environment, where derelict trains are overtaken by nature.

The exhibition’s namesake sculpture starkly interprets the title’s paradox. A diorama that incorporates a taxidermy coyote, cigarette butts, plant matter, and painted elements, Preservation Paradox (2018) uses disparate materials to heighten the visual tension at play in the paintings. At the same time, the work raises questions about art-making as a capitalistic endeavor and about the ethics of human interaction toward nature. While Euclide’s work may critique a consumer culture that leads to postconsumer waste, his presumably recycled materials—Styrofoam, plastics, and acrylic paint—are man-made and slow to decompose. The viewer may wonder to what extent the condemnation of environmental abuse requires complicity in it and to what ends one must participate in these environmental disruptions in order to benefit from a market-based economy.

Gregory Euclide: Preservation Paradox was on view at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco through September 29, 2018.

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