Patrick Hamilton ́s artistic practice contemplates the concepts of labour, inequality, myth and history in the past 50 years of Chilean history; particularly during the post-dictatorship period. Hamilton’s work is an aesthetic reflection on the social and cultural consequences of the "neoliberal revolution" implemented by Augusto Pinochet and the “Chicago Boys” during the 80s and its projection in the social and cultural field from then until now. His work alludes to the complex consequences, often disastrous, that the economic system has caused in Chile, as well as in many countries around the world.
La mano invisible (The Invisible Hand) is Hamilton’s first solo show at Galeria Baginski and takes its title from the literary Novel by Isaac Rosa, which references the term coined by Adam Smith in the mid XVIII century. The concept of “invisible hand”, considered one of the pillars of classic liberalism, is a metaphor for the self-regulating characteristics of the free market in which, through a “rational egoism” and an “empathic” ability, the society’s common wellbeing would be achieved. On the other hand, Issac Rosa’s novel narrates the condition of a labour (and working) world which feeds a virtual and material construction inherent to our current society, where the deterioration of labor conditions, as well as of unemployment, result in a decline of the living standards and in a feeling of tension in a socio-economical context that is clearly in crisis. In the exhibition, Hamilton shows a series of works that directly mention the world of precarious working, referring to labour in its most elemental sense: the manual, repetitive, mechanical and alienating labour. From a position of “artist-builder”, Hamilton creates his works using sandpaper, spatulas, gloves and bricklayer tools that, besides denoting the crisis situation of the labor sector, constitute a formal point-of-view of artistic expression about the already mentioned phenomena. These works, not only reflect upon the moment in which they were produced, but also serve as a testimony to our times.
This process of validation of content through form can be seen in the series of collages that the artist calls Abrasive paintings. Over a first layer of black backgrounds over the canvas, Hamilton “builds”, from his position of “artist-builder”, with sandpaper, a series of patterns and grids that resemble fragments of walls or floors. This action, taken in a repetitive and almost obsessive way, is intensified by the formal character of the works, which make an explicit allusion to the art- historical currents of constructivism and, particularly, suprematism, clearly referring to the black paintings of Kasimir Malevich. This economy of gestures and means - the use of monochromatic language as well as the formal rigidity of the works - is bound to the artistic current that is both formal as conceptual and that was initiated by the Russian artist. The imposition of patrons, as well as the geometry and texture of the paintings surfaces, suggest and idea of continual and infinite, of a work that is virtually expandable. In some of these works, where we find black layered over black, the materiality and function of the sandpaper is annulled, directing the attention towards the aesthetic proprieties, simply suggesting the role of the builder, subliminally putting forward debates of visibility and invisibility.
This question of visibility and invisibility is reinforced in the work Monument (la mano invisible), an installation composed by a wall of metal representing the display devices used in the parallel market in Santiago de Chile. In these metal grids, are shown all kind of products that are sold illegally or without paying taxes (often called “black market”). In the piece, we find work gloves painted in black, like silhouettes or carbonized remains. In this way, the installation resembles a shadow theater, referring to the contradiction between transparent and opaque as a metaphor of our current society, where subversive economies and illegal work constitute the precarious solutions for the lives of millions of people. The invisible hand of Smith might have, after all, become a “black hand”.