Ray Hamilton
Drawings
January 28 - March 12, 2017


Ray Hamilton, 1992, Brooklyn, NY

During the last ten years of his life, self-taught artist Ray Hamilton (born 1919, Columbia, SC, died 1996, Brooklyn, NY) created drawings of everyday objects marked by a distinctive blend of poetry and pragmatism. Using ballpoint pens, as well as graphite and colored pencils, Hamilton traced pieces of fruit, cereal boxes, pens, keys, his cane and other items that came readily to hand. From memory he drew horses, cows, chickens and other animals that populated the rural Southern landscape in which he grew up. The imagery and forms may be delicately outlined or built up in dense layers of cross-hatching.

Hamilton's drawing can be read as a kind of autobiography. His imagery includes tracings of his own hands and feet as well as various items within armÕs reach, calling to mind works by Jasper Johns that refer to the making of art in similarly concrete yet curiously oblique ways.

An important aspect of the autobiographical dimension is that of the texts, signatures and lists of numbers that appear in the drawings. These become visually percussive elements of the whole compositions, which have a spare but offbeat unpredictability of rhythm and rhyme. With their mastery of line and negative space the drawings are like minimalist jazz.

This exhibition of 25 works will survey Hamilton's late-in-life, decade-long career, exhibiting highlights from several different series. Although Kerry Schuss has shown Hamilton's work since the mid 1990's, this is the first solo exhibition at the gallery. Ray Hamilton's work was exhibited at Artist Space, New York in 1991 and most recently at White Columns, New York in 2014.