Dangling Man

18.12.20 – 05.02.21

Michael Hilsman’s exhibition of recent paintings derives its title from the 1944 novel Dangling Man by Saul Bellow in which the protagonist, a young man named Joseph, searches for meaning as he awaits being drafted into the army. He experiences an intellectual and spiritual crisis as he is suspended between two realities.

In Hilsman’s paintings, figures and objects are literally and metaphorically “dangling.” In the painting titled “Dangling Man With Cactus” a delicate piece of string levitates next to a human figure that is precariously suspended. In another work gravity becomes malleable as a kite weighs down the foot of a figure while an untethered feather floats nearby.

These works employ their own logic, in color and form, lulling the viewer into a dream state that is pierced with moments of agitation: in one painting a toe is about to be pricked by a cactus needle, in another painting a pair of scissors stands strangely close to a figure’s ear.

The figures and objects in the paintings remain fragile, dislocated and obscured; the fact that they are left “dangling” is a metaphor for the human condition.

“But what such a life as this incurs is the derangement of days, the leveling of occasions...for me it is certainly true that days have lost their distinctiveness. There were formerly baking days, washing days, days that began events and days that ended them. But now they are undistinguished, all equal, and it is difficult to tell Tuesday from Saturday. When I neglect to look carefully at the newspaper I do not know what day it is. If I guess Friday and then learn that it is actually Thursday, I do not experience any great pleasure in having won twenty-four hours. It is possible that that is one reason why I have been creating agitation. I am not sure...It may be that I am tired of having to identify a day as “the day I asked for a second cup of coffee,” or “the day the waitress refused to take back the burned toast,” and so want to blaze it more sharply, regardless of the consequences.”
- Dangling Man, Saul Bellow, 1944

Le titre de l’exposition consacrée aux nouvelles œuvres de Michael Hilsman est tiré de Dangling Man (Un homme en suspens), un roman de Saul Bellow publié en 1944 dans lequel le protagoniste, un jeune homme prénommé Joseph, recherche du sens en attendant d’être enrôlé dans l’armée. Il traverse une crise intellectuelle et spirituelle, suspendu entre deux réalités.

Dans les tableaux de Hilsman, les figures et les objets sont littéralement et métaphoriquement « en suspens ». Dans l’œuvre intitulée « Dangling Man With Cactus », un délicat morceau de fil est en lévitation à côté d’une silhouette humaine en suspension précaire. Dans une autre de ses œuvres, la gravité devient malléable tandis qu’un cerf-volant tire sur le pied d’une figure et qu’une plume détachée flotte à proximité.

Ces œuvres usent de leur propre logique, dans la couleur et la forme, plongeant le spectateur dans un état onirique entrecoupé de moments d’agitation : dans l’un des tableaux un orteil est sur le point qu’être piqué par l’aiguille d’un cactus, alors que dans un autre une paire de ciseaux se tient étrangement près de l’oreille du personnage.

Les figures et les objets demeurent fragiles, disloqués et obscurcis ; le fait qu’ils soient laissées « en suspens » est une métaphore de la condition humaine.

“But what such a life as this incurs is the derangement of days, the leveling of occasions...for me it is certainly true that days have lost their distinctiveness. There were formerly baking days, washing days, days that began events and days that ended them. But now they are undistinguished, all equal, and it is difficult to tell Tuesday from Saturday. When I neglect to look carefully at the newspaper I do not know what day it is. If I guess Friday and then learn that it is actually Thursday, I do not experience any great pleasure in having won twenty-four hours. It is possible that that is one reason why I have been creating agitation. I am not sure...It may be that I am tired of having to identify a day as “the day I asked for a second cup of coffee,” or “the day the waitress refused to take back the burned toast,” and so want to blaze it more sharply, regardless of the consequences.”
- Dangling Man, Saul Bellow, 1944

Born in 1984, Los Angeles.
Lives and works in Pasadena, CA.
 

Education

2012
MFA, Hunter College, New York

2008
Visiting Artist, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Pakistan, 2008

2006
B.A. Social Change and the Arts, UC Santa Cruz

2004
Delhi University, Delhi, India
 


Solo and Two Artist Exhibitions

2020     
Dangling Man, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland
Introductions: Michael Hilsman, White Cube, Online Exhibition

2019     
Pictures of 'M.' and Other Pictures, Almine Rech Gallery, New-York
Artissima, Dialogue section, Two artist exhibition with Yarisal & Kublitz, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Turin, IT

2018     
Independent Art Fair, Two artist exhibition with Yarisal & Kublitz, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Brussels, Belgium
New Pictures, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland 

2016    
The Softest Bullet, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland

2014    
Emotions, with Jesse Wine, Moiety, New York (two person exhibition)

2013    
Boneflower, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva

              

Group Exhibitions

2020     
Painting Someone, Almine Rech Gallery, Shanghai, China, CN
Animal Kingdom, Alexander Berggruen, New York, NY, US
Portraits & Some Standing Figures, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland
Fragmented Bodies, Albertz Benda, New-York, NY, US

2019     
Still Life: An Ongoing Story, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland 
             
2016    
Snow Show, curated by Carey Denniston and Kyle Dancewicz, Rzeplinski, New York 
Summer show, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland

2014     
Group show, Galerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva, Switzerland

2013     
Yes! But Less (curated by Daria Irincheeva) Apt 16, Newark
CISCO SYSCO SISQO, La Fonda, Rockaway Beach, New York
Moon Over Mountain Pass, Trailer Park Proyects, San Juan, Puerto Rico
100 Little Deaths, BravinLee Programs, New York

2012    
Un Lugar en la Horoptera, Asociacion Cultural Mediodia Chica, Madrid, Spain