Patrick Hartigan, 2019 | at The Commercial, Sydney


It is with pleasure that The Commercial presents a solo exhibition of works by Patrick Hartigan. For several years now, Hartigan has painted on found supports, canvases and boards, that provide some readymade direction for his abstract and figurative compositions. The ground of the painting and some suggestion of a sketch may already be there, a decorative frame already provided because the object is an offcut from a previous use within the cycling utility of materials and objects beyond the studio.

 The action of finding and selection initiates a new work for Hartigan in a way that is different to choosing relatively neutral and informationless materials available for purchase in an art supply store. The irregular cut edge of a piece of unstretched canvas structures a composition. Crumples, footprints and exposed edges are essential to the expressive and gestural system of the work and the distinction between what is artist-made and what is artist-chosen is not important or apparent. 

The economy of this artistic process is two-fold: both the minimisation of material waste, an imperative of our age, but more so the economy of substance or mark-making, the assertion that this is all the beauty we need. Further work or further expense would improve nothing at all. Regardless, the artist labours over his images, letting them emerge over long periods of dedicated studio time. 
Hartigan’s self-titled exhibition gleans visual language over centuries, millennia. A series of silhouette paintings on 1940s hardboard wall panels, (the supports themselves have been witnesses to other lives, conversations) are suggestive of a pre-Christian archaeology of objects. The signs of civilisations before us. Indeed, the exhibition is encyclopedic of history and style, journeying through numerous schools of painting, paying homage to icons, in a rumination around form, material and abstraction.