Artillery Magazine Reviews David Hicks "Seed"

India Mandelkern, Artillery Magazine, March 5, 2021

..."Seed," Hicks' exhibition of sculpture and drawings at Diane Rosenstein Gallery, is more inward-looking,  proving the mimetic properties of organic forms we tend to overlook. Inspired by his drives through Visalia,  California (the source of much of our food supply), Hicks turns his observations of large-scale mechanized  agriculture into raw, personal reflections on time and sacrifice. This theme suffuses the sumptuous masses that  Hicks labels "Offerings": luxuriant heaps of shoots, tendrils, branches and blossoms piled up to four feet in  height and lavished with syrupy glaze. While they are steeped in solemn presence, drawing resemblances to  burial mounds, Hicks withholds and explanation. Offerings to whom? For what? Are they signs of thanksgiving  or penance?  


The Offerings' commanding, maximalist presence throws smaller, sparer forms into relief -- Hicks calls them  "Clippings" -- presented, altar-like, on self-hewn tables throughout the gallery. While each Clipping depicts  what its title promises -- a pine cone, a bulb, a coil of leaves-- they are scaled, glazed, and abstracted to a  degree that they share morphological likenesses with organs. ​Clipping (Red Vine)​ (2017) represents a morass  of scandent vegetation at the end of its flower, draped extravagantly over a fossilized branch. Doused in red  glaze, which bleeds messily onto the bone-colored surfaces, the vines resemble tangled intestines.  


Memento mori come to mind, but not in a traditional sense. Firing clay triggers transformations -- it  desiccates, it hardens, it becomes impervious to the elements-- that mirror the aging process. So too does  firing glaze, which often becomes the subject matter. The thick white treacle pooling and dribbling off of a  red terracotta dish transforms ​Clipping (White Bloom)​ (2020), a simple branch, into a well-worn anointing  spoon steeped in ambrosial substance. The crusted pigment on ​Clipping (Blue Green Clusters)​ (2020), the  result of thick application and multiple firings, armors a vegetal form with calloused rhinoceros skin. These  colors and textures are timestamps: diaristic records of hours logged alone in the studio at the expense of  other activities. They are reminders of the sacrifices made in exchange for shots at uncovering the essential.