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Frank Hyder’s multi-media installation Lost World will be on view at the La Salle University Art Museum from April 13-June 15, 2007.
Frank Hyder is a contemporary, mixed-media artist working with a variety of themes and techniques in dialogue with the cultures of North and Latin America. Trained by Alex Katz, Neil Welliver and Paul Georges of the New York School of New Realists, Hyder received a Senior Fulbright Fellowship to Venezuela in 2000, where he lived and worked for a year. Hyder’s recent work draws inspiration from his experience of the tropical rain forests and towering vegetation he saw in the remote wooded village where he lived with his family. The installation Lost World not only draws upon the artist’s familiarity with Venezuela’s astounding flora and fauna, but also makes us aware of its startling fragility. The world he depicts is literally hidden – lost – in a jungle of leaves and branches, yet he also reminds us of what we lose if the industrial world cuts down the rainforests to make way for “progress.”
Hyder evokes this lost world by covering the walls of the gallery with painted backdrops depicting lush tropical vegetation. Into this, he inserts smaller paintings, often heads of indigenous peoples, undulating schools of fish (reminiscent, Hyder says, of the sensation of being in a leafy environment), as well as painted light boxes, suggestive both of canoes or perhaps even shields or seed forms, all of which glow against their leafy setting. The viewer is encouraged to approach this environment, as Hyder has remarked, with an: “Eden-like sense of wonder and curiosity.”
The artist uses a wide range of media and techniques to achieve these effects. From the 1990s on, Hyder experimented with carving into plywood and then painting over it, creating images that are at once sculptural and painterly, but that also evoke the age-old practice of woodcut printmaking. Other works are made with an unusual combination of wood and plexi-glass. Most recently, Hyder has explored the use of illuminated boxes and the use of gold, which reveal a new interest in light and qualities of what he calls “luminescence.”
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