Daniel Hesidence Carrier

01.19–03.05.2022
Daniel Hesidence | Carrier
Salon 94 89th Street

Opening January 19

Daniel Hesidence: Carrier

What’s in a title? War and Peace? On the Origin of Species? Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)? Daniel Hesidence’s exhibition at Salon 94 bears the title Carrier, and while titles of art shows often gesticulate meaning but are in fact meretricious—that $10 SAT word itself feels like holding the kilt—this one actually does a neat trick of signification. It’s hermeneutically useful. The first association that came to mind was “carrier pigeon,” though probably I’d confused the homing and passenger pigeons, the former so useful throughout the ages in warfare, and the latter, tellingly, extinct. Military connotations give way to scientific ones, for instance genetic carriers, DNA, and the “history” of disease. “A carrier is an individual who carries and is capable of passing on a genetic mutation associated with a disease and may or may not display disease symptoms.”[1] Biological and historical heredities are mirrored. “At the time of your appointment, we ask you some questions about your family history and ethnic background.”[2]

Over the last decade, in all sorts of areas within “culture,” the ideas and affects of Existentialism have returned with a vengeance in the high intellectual sphere and a much more pop sort of version of the high intellectual sphere: Camus, Sartre, and de Beauvoir are back in Bad Faith business among academics and pundits. Can painting lag behind? The carriers for Clausewitz as well as Mendel and their innumerable spawn allude to the two great existential crises of our rightfully beleaguered moment: nuclear annihilation and the cataclysmic loss of species. The dinosaurs are an ever-replete trove of history and reference and data, memory and metaphor: “This slippage seems unavoidable when discussing the extinction of the dinosaurs, and here Brusatte is no different from his predecessors. In reality, nuclear war may be closer than ever, but the threat of it has been superseded by the growing realities of climate change, and so an extinction that was once used as a parable about the devastating consequences of a nuclear conflict has been adapted to address more pressing fears. The end-Cretaceous event proved fatal to most living things, but not all of them. Why did no dinosaurs, large or small, survive it? This is ‘a key question,’ Brusatte writes: ‘We want to answer it particularly because it is relevant to our modern world. When there is sudden global environmental and climate change, what lives and what dies?’ In the case of the dinosaurs there are, it seems, two answers”.[3]

These various dreams of reference course throughout the painterly corpus of Daniel Hesidence overall and in particular in this most recent show, Carrier. In earlier exhibitions, Hesidence mixed up history and mythology, conjuring the far recesses of geological and human antiquity, the Cretaceous Period and many “Ur”-type civilizations, from the Serpent Mound of Ohio (“The Great Serpent Mound is a 1,348-foot-long (411 m), three-foot-high prehistoric effigy mound on a plateau of the Serpent Mound crater along Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio. Maintained within a park by Ohio History Connection, it has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of Interior. The Serpent Mound of Ohio was first reported from surveys by Ephraim Squier and Edwin Davis in their historic volume Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, published in 1848 by the newly founded Smithsonian Museum. The Serpent Mound is the largest serpent effigy in the world.” Wikipedia, natch) to the Egyptian pyramids, and thence from Ramses to the gelid neoclassicism of Egyptian Revival—Mario Praz’s favorite style of interior decoration—and then the packaging of a certain brand of cigarette, then Sigmar Polke circa 1963, then why not the way they bubble and capsize in the recent paintings of Hesidence.

In these paintings Hesidence exploits the tensions between opacity and translucency, as he has in previous bodies of work. The material attributes of the paint medium mirror the historical and mythopoetic contexts that underlie the whole: earth, water, sediment, aura. This translucency allows the viewer to witness a building up of layers of paint, layers of time, layers of sediment in this watery world or what could appear as a possible amphibian/reptilian or mammalian metamorphosis (evolving from protozoa to tadpole to walrus (in one painting, what looks like a vestigial tusk). The material properties of Hesidence’s pictures come to represent the idea of deep time or cosmic evolution. An eye, a slug or tadpole or crocodile, palm trees, the pyramids of Egypt: natural history and the history of civilizations dissolve and commingle, possibly yielding notes on the history of modern art, from biomorphic abstraction to capitalist realism.

The paintings in Carrier propose the possibilities for multiple, sometimes conflicting interpretive axes, but that hermeneutical hyper-flux is born of the extraordinarily fecund formal resources that Hesidence brings to his work. Each painting is like a florilegium of techniques and strategies.

— David Rimanelli

Daniel Hesidence: Carrier is on view by appointment at 3 East 89th Street from January 19 to March 5, 2022.

Please go to salon94.com/visit to schedule your appointment.

For additional information on Daniel Hesidence, please contact Alissa Friedman.

For press inquiries, please contact Michelle Than.

[1] “Ask Dr. Genome,” National Human Genome Research Institute Home | NHGRI, accessed January 11, 2022, https://www.genome.gov/.

[2] Stephen Gaede, “Genetic Carrier Screening: The Johns Hopkins Fertility Center,” Genetic Carrier Screening | The Johns Hopkins, September 16, 2019.

[3] Francis Gooding, “What Lives and What Dies,” London Review of Books 41, no. 1, January 3, 2019.