Work by Hugh Hayden '18 © Eden Krsmanovic / Courtesy of the artist and CLEARING New York, Brussels

Solo Exhibition by Alumnus Hugh Hayden '18 Opens at C L E A R I N G

BY Nicole Saldarriaga, May 21, 2021

A second solo exhibition by alumnus Hugh Hayden '18, titled Hues, has opened at C L E A R I N G in Brussels. Hues continues to explore themes and techniques that Hayden began working with in Summer of 2019. 


The sculptures in this exhibition—hybridizations of cast-iron skillets and wooden West African masks—represent the third iteration of this series. The first was shown at Princeton University Art Museum and an installation titled The Choir was shown shortly after at Columbia University's Uptown Triennial 2020. It was for this second installation of the series that Hayden colored the sculptures for the first time. 


For Hues, Hayden expands on his hybrid sculptures by using both contemporary and pre-war designs for skillets, as well as masks from tribes that share Hayden's own lineage. According to the press release for Hues, "Hayden takes his point further and appends his body parts (nose, lips, penis, eyes) to the skillets and masks, creating Frankenstein-like self portraits. The show's title, Hues, is therefore not only a hint to the many vibrant colors that coat the enamelled surface of each skillet, but also a riff on the artist's name and identity." 


In order to create each unique sculpture, Hayden uses sand-casting techniques to combine the different elements of each piece. "This low-tech process of composition, molding, casting, and enamelling," says the press release, "leads to the painterly uniqueness of each work: rather than an industrial multiplication of one form, Hayden offers a multiplicity of individuals, more or less faithful to their original components." This process also necessarily leads to an abstraction of the original forms, which can be seen as a representation of the dilution of culture and identity through the African Diaspora. 


Hayden carried the themes present in his work into an act of philanthropy and activism when he founded the new Solomon B. Hayden Fellowships at Columbia last year. In partnership with the University, C L E A R I N G Gallery, and Lisson Gallery, Hayden established the fellowships—named after his late father—in the wake of George Floyd's murder. The generous fellowships offer two students who are active in the African-American and African Diaspora communities the opportunity to study arts at Columbia—one in the Visual Arts MFA program with a focus on sculpture, and one in the Art History and Archaeology MA program through GSAS with a focus on the critical study of modern and contemporary art.


Hues will be available for viewing at C L E A R I N G Brussels through June 6, 2021. 


Hugh Hayden lives and works in New York. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University in 2007, and his MFA from Columbia University in 2018. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at White Columns, New York; Lisson Gallery, New York and London; Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey and C L E A R I N G Brussels. His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including Hayward Gallery, London; MoMA PS1 Rockaway Beach, New York; Socrates Sculpture Park, New York; The Shed, New York; and Abrons Art Center, New York; Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York; Massimo De Carlo, London; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; JTT, New York; PPOW, New York; François Ghebaly, Los Angeles; Blum & Poe, Los Angeles; and C L E A R I N G New York. The artist has upcoming solo exhibitions at ICA Miami, Miami; Blaffer ARt Museum, Houston and Philadelphia Contemporary, Philadelphia. Hugh Hayden’s work is part of the collections of the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey; Dib Museum, Bangkok; X Museum, Beijing and Start Museum, Shanghai.