ASHES/ASHES is pleased to present Plato’s Closet, an exhibition by Timothy Hull. It is the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition will be on view from March 4th to April 24th, 2022, with an opening on Friday, March 4th, from 6–8 pm. Gallery hours are Wednesday—Sunday, 12–6 pm.
Plato’s Closet features a suite of five new paintings which further Hull’s investigations and research into the imagery and allure of Antiquity. After a City University of New York fellowship took the artist to Athens in 2018, Hull was puzzled by a dream. Finding himself within a dusty stone amphitheater, a mysterious group surrounded him and a startling mask with dark eyes and mouth of infinite depth gestured an indecipherable dance. Resembling a Greek chorus or perhaps a pre-Socratic mystery cult, Hull was certain that the dream delivered an indelible image, which from a Jungian perspective, spoke to the existential dread contained in our contemporary collective unconscious.
Inspired by both the evocative dream and a recent re-reading of Neitzsche’s Birth of Tragedy, the recent work features theater masks inspired by the Greek chorus, images of Dionysius and his retinue, and an Apollonian approach to the picture plane. If Apollo is the rational builder of things, Dionysius is the intuitive deconstructionist. The paintings are created in the dialectical space between the two Ancient Greek deities and it appears that Hull's psychic reality resides in both the contemporary and ancient world.
The repeated motif of the tragedy mask is also offset by imagery of various theatrical players and mythological beings; all of which point to Hull’s preoccupation with the iconography of pre-Socratic mystery cults, images of homosexual acts from antiquity, and a general sense of an absurdist archeology. As Emily Weiner wrote in a 2014 Artforum review, “...Hull works with a mixed bag of cultural symbols, containing both humor and reverence–an alchemical recipe that grounds the modern artist’s mark in a long lineage of scrawls and satires.”
The exhibition titled, Plato’s Closet, directly references a thrift store chain that specializes in recycling and repurposing goods. Perhaps this is what Hull is working towards in the discursive paintings; a re-interpretation and re-use of images and forms from antiquity, squeezed, thrown about and dragged into the contemporary. What is old is new again, what is imagined is made manifest. Plato’s Closet is also a cheeky, campy nod to the “closet” as a furtive, secret space; a cabinet of sorts. Who doesn’t love the mystery of what lies behind a closet door? Forget Plato’s cave; it’s his closet that contains multitudes.
Timothy Hull (b. 1979; New York, NY) lives and works in Warwick, NY. He received an MFA from Parsons School of Design (New York, NY) and a BA from New York University (New York, NY). He has had solo exhibitions at: Kristen Lorello Gallery (New York, NY); Eduardo Secci (Florence, Italy); Jeff Bailey Gallery (Hudson, NY); ASHES/ASHES (Los Angeles, CA); Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery (New York, NY); and Fitzroy Gallery (New York, NY). His work has been included in group exhibitions at: ASHES/ASHES (New York, NY); Invisible Exports (New York, NY); Bureau (New York, NY); Mitchell-Innes and Nash (New York, NY); and Tate Modern (London, United Kingdom). His work has been featured and reviewed in The New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, Flash Art, Interview Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle.