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Charlie Hammond, installation view, Michael Benevento, Los Angeles, 2008

Glasgow-based artist Charlie Hammond’s solo show, The Doerupper, presents paintings and sculptures that far from need ‘doing up’. His plaster, ceramics, and framed oil works converge and collide, creating a delightful and unorthodox collection that is playful in its construction, and thought-provoking in its paradoxes.

The Doerupper refers to the real estate colloquialism used to describe something that needs and has the potential to be ‘done up’ or improved upon, structurally and aesthetically. It evens hints at a DIY style, which is notable when considering Hammond’s material and construction. In ‘Doerupper 1, 2 and 3’, (all works 2008), a series of framed oil and ceramic on canvas initially seem forcefully and violently handmade, yet on inspection, is well composed and surprisingly subtle. No scars are present on the canvas. Rather, Hammond places the sculpted rocks gently against a dark background, where his surface brush strokes engage with the objects, contributing a childlike component and impulsiveness in contrast to their formulaic placement. Their sparse appointment and unyielding background create a disarming eloquence and simplicity that one might find when viewing a pensively executed rock garden, a bare desert landscape, or a cryptically arranged stonehenge structure.

‘Hungry Man with Intersecting Roads’, one of Hammond’s subtractive paintings, continues his structural contradiction. Exposing the support of the work by carefully removing part of the canvas, he eliminates this division between the exterior and the interior. Painted roads crisscross the surface, empty space is removed, and what remains is the effect of canvas lacework. Hammond has rendered the structure, as important as the surface, literally from the background to the foreground.

His idea of material construction from the inside out persists in ‘Sculpture with Missing Wheel 1, 2 and 3’. These haunting pieces emerge as living monuments with recovering bones. Rather than a cast for a broke leg, the plaster bandages support the injured horizontal and vertical elements, as if in a state of recuperation. Yet, there is a sense of irreversible deterioration or hopeless recovery as each sculpture decays from the three wheel and two armed structure of ‘Sculpture with Missing Wheel 1’, to the primaeval arch-like structure on ceramic bricks in ‘Sculpture with Missing Wheel 3’. But the lightheartedness that exists in these skeleton-like tricycles, with titles which poke at the ‘missing wheel’, administers just the right dose of absurdity to make such stoic and bare sculptures tolerable.

Hammond’s style and process are cleaner and more simplified than one might expect from his anti-formalist aesthetic approach. He replaces found objects with ceramic-made pieces and randomness with intention. His method of embedding ceramics on canvas, or cutting away at the surface, allows him to play with structural components, dismissing and propelling the division between interior and exterior. The Doerupper is a series of whole and disparate parts operating in tandem, beautifully and playfully, with little need for improvement.

Kathleen Brzezinski is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles