Is it possible to make a painting that refers to nothing and yet is immediately recognizable? This is one of the questions Daniel Hesidence seems to be asking in his latest show Place Holders. These paintings may seem to be out of sync in our culture with its hyper-fast ability to easily consume and shed seductive images. They embody an elusive stance towards “picturing” anything known or knowable. The lack of nameable imagery demands mark-making that suggests but never describes. And yet-- ‘hooks’ abound within the paintings.
Heads, larger than life and devoid of individuality, are deployed to create a type of psychological resonance. They act as stand-ins for humans; their faces create forced stoppages inside a flurry of painterly activity that seems to be of a distinctly left, right, and back again sort. Horizontal lines and smudges create a blurred effect that alludes to travel by train or car. Calligraphic lines of white paint straight from the tube knit together to form a loose mapping and can act as painterly apertures, casting occasional frames over wet passages that appear like exposures on a roll of film.
The palette in Place Holders is wearily pop-inflected; “objects” hover over fields of sky blue, acrid yellow or urgently unnatural greens. Clots of suspended activity over the colorful grounds seem to pool meaning and provide focus. There is a subsequent wiping away and addition of more drawing that, in turn, serves to obscure and reframe each layer. The destruction of forms through the act of erasure and covering with paint indicates a sense of internal order in nonstop flux.
The paintings are by turns joyful, frustrating, ecstatic, gross, buoyant and blithe. To see them, as the title of the show suggests, complicates the reading of these works. To view the paintings as ‘Place Holders’--as elements that hold the place of an unknown component in a sentence or equation but carry limited value themselves--is a confounding notion when confronted with work of such complexity and investment. In his title, perhaps Hesidence is suggesting a lack of finality and sense of the final product being residue from inquiry. Each painting is a test of the proposition or propositions of its making in this particular time and circumstance. Each as meaningless or essential as the next but fully their own and mysteriously lasting.