Leslie Sacks Gallery is pleased to present Charles Christopher Hill Origin Story. The exhibition will feature the Los Angeles based artist’s iconic stitch-works from the mid-1970s to early-1980s. Eight of these vintage and historical works will be on view—some never before exhibited. The stitch pieces are a seminal body of work for Charles Christopher Hill and have informed his evolving oeuvre over the last nearly five decades.
The origins of Hill’s interest in materials and stitching cropped up at an early age. As a young child in Pennsylvania, Charles Christopher Hill would sneak to his mother’s sewing machine to tinker and play. He would gather scraps of fabric and create freeform arrangements by letting the machine dictate the direction of the patterns and seams. Later when he attended art school at the University of California, Irvine (1969-1973) he would be greatly influenced by his professors—among them were art world luminaries Ken Price, John Mason, Vija Celmins, Robert Irwin, and Ed Moses. Ed Moses’s interlaced laminated tissue constructions, in particular, inspired Hill to reinterpret and reimagine them through process. He admired the spontaneous, put-togetherness of Moses’s work. Hill began the first iterations of these compositions by gluing large 4x8 foot or 6x8 foot pieces of paper together. Shortly thereafter he moved on from using glue and returning to his roots to employ the sewing machine. He appreciated that sewing represented the idea of a mechanical, rather than a chemical bond.
Charles Christopher Hill soon became an integral part of the burgeoning Los Angeles art scene of the 1970s. He was now exploring ideas of vintage and age through his collaged tapestries of stitched fabric and newspaper scraps by distressing them through various means–sometimes he would bury them in the dirt, immerse them in the ocean, or blast them with water at a car wash. All of this imparted an immediate weathered and aged quality. Texture and pattern emerged organically through his wild methodology. And always evident in the work was an artist who loved materials. Using fragments of fabric, paper, newsprint, telephone book pages, and even clippings from Chinese newspaper (he loved that he couldn’t read it, rendering it abstract). He selected all of these materials based on color and accumulated a substantial cache of these provisions around his studio. It was through his investigation of paper that he met his late wife, Victoria Blyth Hill, a paper conservator at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She guided Hill’s selection of materials and advised which solutions would be sound and archival, such as wheat paste and calcium carbonate wash (which he continues to use today on his newsprint works). Hill’s focus on surface and an adherence to a process incorporating chance and experimentation has become emblematic of his work, which all originated with the stitch works. Though they appear fragile, Hill did not treat them preciously. He assumed they would be temporary given their nature, but ironically they’ve remained in tact and in original condition decades later.
Charles Christopher Hill’s work is included in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Musée des Beaux Arts, Angers, France; and the Total Contemporary Art Museum, Seoul, Korea.