Taking Inspiration From William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus
When Shayne Hull turns his sardonic eye to public figures, he joins a great tradition of political satirists, such as the legendary Hugh Haynie. Republican Strategist Karl Rove, and President Barack Obama, have all been subjects, and now, partially inspired by the plot of William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, Hull offers portraits of “Mobin Andronicus, Sr.,” “Eric Andronicus,” and “Donald Andronicus, Jr.,” wickedly funny caricatures that strike at both sides of the political aisle and require no pithy caption for their pointed understanding.
Hull’s human heads are often misshapen, so the knack for satire fits him like a second skin, but he also turns his misanthropic perspective on himself, and those whom he holds dear. Self-flagellation in portraiture was not invented by Hull, but few have exposed themselves so ruthlessly on a gallery wall. Barbed wire is a most unforgiving material to wrap a human head, and his own children model adhesive tape and play with wooden rods that are can be suggestive of something more sinister.
On another level, the portraits reveal the malleable plasticity of human form applied absurdly to the skull. Our brains are encased and protected in these rounded shields of bone, and that they are here so easily distorted suggests an awareness of the arrogance by which we take our bodies for granted; a cautionary reminder of our own fragility and the preciousness of life.
Such dark humor may invite squeamishness in the viewer, yet even the most disturbing of Hull’s images (a wooden rod tucked under a boy’s chin) contain a deeply felt humanity; a playfulness that pushes boundaries with what often feels like a child-like sensibility. That quality may come, in part, from his work with young patients at the Kosair Children’s Outpatient Hospital (Louisville, KY) where Hull and his students created a 10′ x 20′ ceramic tile mural.
Hull studied painting at Texas A&M and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and earned a Master in art education from the University of Louisville. The Kentucky Arts Council has honored Hull with the Kentucky Visions 2004 Purchase Award, an Individual Art Professional Development Grant, and the 1998 Al Smith Artist Fellowship. He also won the Frank F. Weisberg Excellence in Painting Award at the 2003 Water Tower Annual (Louisville, KY).
Shaynicus Andronicus, a solo exhibit of Shayne Hull’s work, will be on view at LVA during the performances of Titus Andronicus by Kentucky Shakespeare that runs October 4 – 31 (Thur-Sat 8:00pm), or by appointment through Louisville Visual Art.
Hometown: East Moline, Illinois
Education: BFA in Painting, Texas A&M @ Corpus Christi; MFA in Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art; and MAT in Art Education, University of Louisville
Gallery Representative: Swanson Contemporary
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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.