DCKT Contemporary is pleased to present our second exhibition of new paintings by TIMOTHY TOMPKINS. Manifest Destiny takes its title from a rhetorical document written in 1839 by John L. O’Sullivan which advocated the belief that it is America’s God-given right to expand outwards and dominate the continent in the name of economic and political security. On a global level, TOMPKINS’ paintings exist within the framework of the current political climate manifesting itself today where certain disturbing parallels and connections could be made between the Jackson Administration and the Bush Administration. From continental expansion to the current presence in the Middle East, the desire of this nation to extend itself outwards in the name of self-interest and protectionism is a defining and controversial character trait unchanged since the 19th century.
TOMPKINS begins by digitally altering his own photographs, breaking the images down to between 12 and 15 core colors and blurring the contours. He then uses high-gloss commercial enamel sign paint on aluminum panels to execute the paintings. The quick-drying nature of the paint, manufactured by 1 Shot, enhances its expressive liquidity and materiality. Often, the contours of the underdrawing and small areas of the aluminum support are still visible, as if the image is still forming.
The Interstate Sublime series of paintings take as their foundation a re-investigation of the Hudson River School artists and the idea of national identity expressed through landscape. The paintings began with a series of photographs taken during several road trips. The scenic environments range from mountain to ocean. With the point of view as that of the driver the viewer becomes a participant and conspirator within the landscape, in contrast to the 19th century ideal of simple observer of the landscape. In the past the emphasis was on the awe-inspiring and untamed beauty of nature. Now that same nature has been tamed and the landscape can be perceived as an inconvenience and something to be passed through as quickly as possible.
The Empire painting series plays with the idea “American Imperialism” as represented through the iconic building. The structure that seems to define the nation’s character juts syringe-like into the sky, at once beautifully imposing and increasingly pretentious in name, it is also represents a modern vulnerability. Referencing Monet’s “series” paintings, the Empire State Building is painted in varying light conditions ranging from sunrise to evening.
TOMPKINS’ work was recently on view at The 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan and in Oil Paintings at White Columns, New York, NY. In 2003, his work was seen in New American Talent: The Eighteenth Exhibition, curated by Dominic Molon (Associate Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago), which traveled extensively through Texas. TOMPKINS is in the collection of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, Los Angeles, CA.