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Hayley Tompkins at Matthew Brown
The title of Tompkins’ exhibition “Tell Gonzo How” references the style of journalism in which a reporter folds themself into the story and tells it from an involved, first-person point of view. In the way that Gonzo journalists (e.g. Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe) tend to casually weave their own tangential accounts and experiences into the main story, Tompkins forgoes a linear narrative and suffuses the exhibition with a similar meandering style.
Rather than working with a traditional painter’s canvas, the artist’s surfaces range from men’s button-down shirts, to Ikea chairs, and large-scale wooden panels. Frequent bright streaks of blue, green, yellow, pink, and purple are splashed across the objects, but waves of black crash in from the edges, as if to tamp down on the otherwise boundless nature of these works.
By ditching the canvas, Tompkins explores spatial relationships by shapeshifting the medium of paint throughout the work, and traipsing from object to object and instilling each with a different emotion, not unlike a Gonzo journalist turning over their personal feelings about a reported story.
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Photo: Hayley Tompkins, Tell Gonzo How, Matthew Brown, Los Angeles, 2023. © Hayley Tompkins. Courtesy of the artist and Matthew Brown. Photo: Paul Salveson.