Richard Hawkins draws upon aspects of visual culture that indulge in the pleasures and taboos of looking at the human body. In his work, the body frequently happens to be young, male, and exotic. Hawkins’ subjects span centuries and continents, including Classical Greek and Roman statuary, 19th-century literature, 1980s teen pop heartthrobs, Thai sex tourism (in a series he refers to as a “Viagra overdose”), avant-garde Japanese dance, and the paintings of Gustave Moreau. His mediums and style also vary widely, having encompassed painting, sculpture, digital art, and drawing. The basis of his practice, however, is collage: it was the first medium in which he made mature work, and it has since become his analogy for the act of looking and understanding.
In a new series of polychromed ceramics and mixed media collages, Hawkins mines the post-electroshock drawings of Antonin Artaud for imagery and evidence of a mind set free to wander into the darkly erotic domain of the preternatural. Witchy shamans, gynandromorphic idols, shitting plague-rats, acephalic succubi and “daughters of the heart, unborn” populate a body of shrine-like wall works which rework and compound Artaudian interplays between the primitive, the sacred, the execrable and the hallucinatory.