"I first became aware of Daniel Hawkins’ artwork when he was still an undergrad at UCLA in a senior painting class taught by my wife, M.A. Peers. Daniel was already producing remarkably sophisticated work, including two of the funniest and richest engagements with the problematics of painting-as-event and painting-as-artifact I’ve ever seen. In the one, he videotaped himself from above, attempting to clean a paint spill with a broom but only managing to fill a monochrome rectangle with the wayward medium.
The resulting AbEx gestural documentary (a cinematographic inversion of the famous glass sequence from Namuth’s 1951 Pollock Painting) was then projected onto a vertical stretched canvas of the same dimensions as the original surface. In the other, he embedded a blank stretched canvas in a monolithic slab of cast concrete, then (eventually) proceeded to attempt to excavate it. Antics ensued. In spite of their high conceptualist quotient and canny humor, both pieces – as with all of Hawkins’ work — possessed a stark, effortless formal beauty. Here was one to keep an eye on.
He didn’t disappoint, embarking on a series of ambitious, narrative-laden, interwoven interdisciplinary projects, including an attempt to realize Radical Mountain – an alpine adventure film about the conquest of a summit with an elevation of zero; a making-of documentary about the aborted first attempt; and a fictionalized documentary about the auteur’s campaign to secure the acting services of Val Kilmer.
At Las Cienegas Projects Hawkins showed a funhouse-optics sculptural installation that extended a section of railroad tracks into infinity: a hiccup in the Great Western Matrix, a ghostly manifestation of the iconic depiction of one-point linear perspective; Manifest Destiny as a house of mirrors.
Other enterprises included infiltrating a reality television show about bizarre food addictions as the concerned friend of an actor cohort who in turn pretended to be living entirely off a variety of vinegars; a series of solo improvised sound art performances played entirely on the amplified lid of a peperoncini jar; some sort of road trip/endurance test involving the confining of a death metal band in a van tricked out as a portable studio/pirate radio transmitter for two weeks; and the long-term building of an actual size replica of the Hoover Dam in manageable sections to be distributed across the American landscape. And this was all before entering grad school!"
... read the rest of "A STORM IN ANY PORT: DANIEL HAWKINS FAILS HIS WAY TO THE TOP!" in the Desert Lighthouse Prospectus, available now.
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