For this exhibition Hylander presents a series of new paintings that seek to capture the fleeting quality of memories arising from a return journey, by the artist, to a place of his childhood. There is a quixotic character evident in the work’s ambition to recall the sense of place Hylander holds but also, conveyed in the work’s muted tones, is an awareness of the trappings of reflection. The form captured in the painting ‘Lost again in the new house’ could be interpreted as a literal framing of this idea. In this work a sense of reverie and nostalgia has been seemingly frozen in the shape of an amulet, like the lock of hair in a locket, yet even here the evanescent quality of recall seems to disallow rigidity of form to occur.
Working with acrylic on canvas Hylander has been described as using ‘painting as archaeology’. In his work paint is applied and scraped away in equal measure to create mesmerising dreamscapes of interiors and still lives. Reworking these traditional genres of painting, Hylander is able to create scenes that are briefly tangible before they blur into a sea of emotive textures and forms. There is a ghostly aura in the subdued tones and use of light in the work that induce this shift. Through Hylander’s dry use of colour the paintings are imbued with a sense of transience, as if the works are merely whispers of memories not quite fully grasped, revisited through Hylander’s delicate command of the brush. This glimmer of perceptible objects and scenes is carefully crafted through the excavation of every inch of the canvas. In submitting his canvases to this meticulous process Hylander appears to be undertaking a kind of ontological study of the environments and objects that surround us. The worn quality that the paintings possess, as a result of this prolonged investigation, is seemingly at odds with the fragility of the imagery depicted and yet, somehow it strengthens the work’s ability to suggest that memory is not fixed but instead it can change through the abstraction of its retelling.
Thomas Hylander was born in Denmark in 1970 and moved to the UK in 1997 after a period as a guest student at the Academy of Fine Art in Warsaw, Poland. In 2004 he graduated from the Royal College of Art with a MA in Fine Art. Hylander participated in Bloomberg New Contemporaries as part of the Liverpool Biennale that toured to the Barbican in 2004-5, London and also participated in ARTfutures in 2005. In 2007 he had a solo show at Henningsen Contemporary at Green Square, Copenhagen and is currently participating in a group show at Karyn Lovegrove Gallery, Los Angeles. He lives and works in London.