Hilary Pecis: “Intricacies of Phantom Content” at Triple Base Gallery

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Untitled (Spring Series #8), 2009
Ink, collage, acrylic and dry pigment on panel, 181⁄2″ x 15″
Photo: courtesy of Triple Base

In her most recent show, the young, prolific, San Francisco-based Hilary Pecis shows further progression of style in the collage work she has begun to be known for, as well as a trio of new paintings that verge far from previous work. An MFA graduate from California College of the Arts, Pecis is an emerging artist, and she’s emerging fast. This new work is a good indication why. The small, single-room space of Triple Base in San Francisco’s Mission District housed the thirteen new Pecis pieces. Most works were small-ish in scale, never larger than 24″ x 48″, which worked well in the intimate venue.

Pecis’s collages continue to be tight compositions, each a jewel box-replete with a frenzy of sparkle and countless small bits and pieces-of a world that slowly but firmly draws the viewer in with an almost three-dimensional depth. These intricately layered Neo Geo abstractions are the artist’s vision of a post-apocalyptic universe, full of luxury objects but bereft of human presence. In a departure from previous work, the horizon-line has vanished, and Pecis takes us to outer space. She also gives us more evidence of the original purpose of her collage with a more clearly defined use of fashion magazine clippings. Formerly, her work was more formal, the shards of cut pages unrecognizable as anything other than swatches of color. Here we see hair, gems, fabric. Pecis also continues the incorporation of her pen-and-ink “doodles”-dense, repetitive drawings of various obsessively rendered black-and-white patterns-as well as sections of solid loud color: Pepto-Bismol pink, black, aquamarine. The result is a psychedelic cacophony of pattern, color and form. The identifiable objects give only a moment of anchoring before the eye is off again to the myriad points of interest. Movement, movement, the works vibrate with motion. Whereas Pecis’s former work was notably quieter and more of this planet, these new pieces explode.

In their execution, the works present an interplay between future and past; the appearance is of being computer generated, although craft is evident. These works are painstakingly, obsessively created completely by hand.

Where the show lulls is with the paintings. Maybe it’s because the collages are so fantastic (both in terms of subject as well as quality) and the paintings relatively quiet; they fade in comparison. Composed of geometric shapes, reminiscent of the multi-planed surface of a diamond, the grey tones that mostly form the palette are comparatively dull. Arguably, these are transitional works; perhaps explorations not fully resolved? They were out of synch with the vibrantly evolved collages, which steal the show and leave one thinking with great anticipation: Where will she go next?

VIAcherie l. turner
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Chérie Louise Turner is a Berkeley-based freelance writer and also editor-in-chief for the San Francisco-based magazine, the Nob Hill Gazette. Her freelance writing has appeared in Tahoe Quarterly, Artweek, and ArtNews, among other publications. Cherie’s publishing experience includes serving as managing editor of Tahoe Quarterly, the editor-in-chief for Nevada Home, and the publishing coordinator for Hackett-Freedman Gallery. A former nationally competitive bicycle racer, Chérie is now also a competitive runner.