The Placeholders, Tim Eitel at Hakgojae Gallery 9.2 – 10.23
Earlier this fall Tim Eitel’s pictures were an unexpected sight at Hakgojae Gallery, known typically for showing touchy feely, AbExy-ish works. In contrast, Eitel’s works, an ensemble of at times hard-edged representational paintings, akin to photography, offered up stirring reflections of homelessness, hunger and abandonment. In many instances the paintings showed anonymous, unidentifiable figures in endless space, but also the occasional image of someone juxtaposed in an abstracted space, whether a cold beach, a fractured stadium or a corporate like structure. For all the figures that appear in Eitel’s canvases none look out. In fact, each is turned away or positioned with their back to the painter and therefore the audience. These elements combined to put the viewer at a distance, bringing the isolation full circle. Especially compelling was his Besitz, a dark painting of a nearly invisible homeless man pushing a shopping cart. This painting, easily passed by as a dark on dark nothing, was in fact stunning in its constructing this first appraisal, and then in giving way to such an image of despair. The question is how are Eitel’s placeholders not merely stand-ins on his canvas, canvases he profits from, as their invisibility becomes his visibility. His hope is that these works bring awareness. That hope, I fear, is unmet.
reviewed by Julia Marsh