dianne was talking with tim hawkinson

about the installation of his exhibition garden variety


dianne dec: The installation has gone through a number of changes since you’ve been here – what are you most surprised about?

tim hawkinson: I was surprised that Todd wondered if I was going to be involved in the installation or if the gallery should just handle it, because I can’t imagine having a show that I don’t have absolute, complete control over. Well, it’s not so much about control as about tweaking, and taking certain liberties that few other people would feel comfortable doing. For instance, putting Holey Skinny Jeans up on a ladder. First I was going to have it on the ground, but it kind of got lost, and then we put it on a pedestal, and that didn’t quite seem right. There were ladders sitting around during the installation, and I looked at it on top of a ladder and that gave it the right tension I thought, and the perfect height. The piece itself is comprised of images of water and of people diving into the water, and by placing the piece on a ladder it was like putting a figure on a diving board about to take a plunge.


But I wouldn’t say that was the biggest surprise…

Well something new for me… we painted a large wall a dark, almost ultramarine, blue, and when I walked in, the painters had left the blue tape up around the edges. So when I saw the lighter blue against the dark blue – a kind of meridian between the dark blue and white wall – that gave it a kind of electricity that I liked. So I kept the blue tape up, and I know people are just going to think that we forgot to take the tape off, but it really was on purpose, because I like what happens in your peripheral vision when you’re looking in the space and aware of that lighter blue just on the edge of your vision – it’s a kind of electric glow. I’ve never worked with color much before, so that was a new experience.


dianne: Does the art occupy the space in the way you thought it would – and a related question, how does it feel when you can see it all together in this fashion – is it what you’d expected or hoped for?

tim: Well it’s a big space, and I was concerned about the physical presence that I needed for it, but in the end I feel like it’s a really comfortable number of pieces and the show does have that physical presence. Another interesting thing about working in this space particularly is the philosophy of lighting, which is just taking the lighting as it comes. It’s a lot of natural light, and it’s interesting to see how it changes through the day, and it kind of changed my approach to installation where normally I just put things where I really felt they belonged and then lit them. But now the quality of light becomes another unmovable property that you deal with.


dianne: And so in the end did you find that beneficial, or was it just more of a challenge?

tim: Yes—it was a challenge at first, but then I just felt more comfortable with it and went along with it. I moved some things around and ultimately felt like it looked much better because I realized what was going on and sort of bent with that –

dianne: Right, just decided to work with it as another feature of the space –

tim: Yeah, I was trying to light pieces, which felt really artificial, and now it feels much more natural.


dianne: Do you have a favorite piece in the show?

tim: Usually I answer that with ‘whatever I’m working on’ or the most recent piece, but… maybe Thumbsucker, the moon and the astronaut. I’m really pleased with the way the light falls on it and how the blue bounces off the back of it, it really gives it a “dark side of the moon” feeling, like it’s in shadow, this cold shadow…


dianne: I just want to say personally how honored we are to be showing your work. I’ve admired your work for many, many years, and always thought it was such a shame that you didn’t have a gallery in your “hometown.”   It feels very special to us. So for you, how does it feel to have your work shown in a large solo exhibition for the first time in about 20 years, in this part of the world where you grew up?

tim: This show has been a long time coming, I’ve been anxiously anticipating it for a number of years – I thought it would happen, and it’s a great privilege for me also to be here –

dianne: You thought it would happen with us?

tim: Yeah, you know I’ve been in a number of group shows [with you], and we’ve been working up to it, but we were both kind of shy and it took awhile to get the ball rolling. (laughter) It’s the same story in the courtship with my wife, we had to have somebody else formally get us together at a party and break the ice.

I’ve lived in LA for so long, and I’ve never actually lived in San Francisco, so it’s not so much like a homecoming, but it’s such an important city, especially with all that’s happening right now, and it’s a great time for my work to be seen here, so I feel very fortunate.


tim hawkinson’s exhibition garden variety is on view at hosfelt gallery in san francisco through 7 May 2016.