"Lee Albert Hill: Signs" at CAMIBAart

This solo exhibition asks, What happens when shapes run away to join the circuits?

Bluestem #36 by Lee Albert Hill

Tangrams, I'm telling you.

The tangram, Wikipedia informs, is a dissection puzzle consisting of seven flat polygons, called tans, which are put together to form shapes. And you look at Lee Albert Hill's paintings, now on display in an exhibition called "Signs" at Austin's CAMIBAart, and you're going to think of tangrams. Which is a decent enough start, but the artist is no stingy minimalist and he's certainly not stopping there.

For one thing, many of Hill's paintings are really big – and the various flat polygons they depict are commensurately sized. So, like, huge tangrams. In visually compelling patterns. To begin with.

And then, another thing, these big, flat, and mostly monochrome polygons are overlaid with thin lines coming in from the negative space, curvilinear chaos like illustrations of subatomic events from CERN's bubble chamber. Or the lines aren't contrasting invasions of the polygons, sometimes; instead, they're equally thin and complicated extrusions from the polygons, shifting the painting's resemblance toward diagrams of the complex circuitry that must power God's Own Boombox.

(Look at the image included with this review and let me know if I'm too far off base with these descriptions, OK, reader? Unless you're the ghost of Jack Kirby, I may have to fight you.)

But then, the final thing, Hill doesn't just paint these marvels on any old canvas – or on any new canvas, for that matter. For many of his works, the artist first sets large swaths of canvas out in the open wilderness, to be worked upon by the elements for days – bleached and blanched by the blazing sun, stained and strained by the falling rain – and then uses them as the ground for his exercises in graphic brilliance, often embedding the flood of grass shards and other plant matter that accosted the fabric. Often using the paint not just for color but for distinct topographical results.

It's the last thing that really sells these works, I'll suggest. I mean, literally sells them. Because you can look at just the visual designs and they'll wow you – but why not just get a cheap poster version so's to enjoy those purely optical effects? Or you could be a collector who prefers work with a definite texture to it, work that results in a unique and tactile object, but you're disappointed when such things aren't also a treat for the eyes? In pieces like Bluestem #36, Minty on the Bowery, and others, Hill combines both those methods of engagement with irresistible power.

As almost a sort of bonus, many of the paintings' colors are inspired by real-world phenomena that – ah, but we'll let the artist (or Camiba's Troy Campa or Veronica Valarino) tell you about that in person, right? When you set up an appointment to see this stunning show in person, everybody masked.

"Lee Albert Hill: Signs"

CAMIBAart, 6448 Hwy. 290 E., A102, 512/937-5921
Through July 11, by appointment only

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More CAMIBAart
Austin's Artspace Crisis and Microvenues
Austin's Artspace Crisis and Microvenues
Are home art galleries and mini-performance venues the answer to the space crunch?

Robert Faires, June 22, 2018

CAMIBAart Gallery's Troy Campa
CAMIBAart Gallery's Troy Campa
This local gallerist left behind a successful career in architecture to develop a new creative life in the art world

Madeline Irvine, Nov. 18, 2016

More Arts Reviews
<i>All Things Left Wild</i> by James Wade
All Things Left Wild by James Wade
In his debut novel, the Austin author reveals a world of brotherly sin and redemption across the Old West

Wayne Alan Brenner, Aug. 7, 2020

Book Review: <i>Network Effect</i> by Martha Wells
Book Review: Network Effect by Martha Wells
In this first full-length novel featuring Murderbot, the violent but endearing rogue AI is back for more adventures to delight "all the stupid humans"

Elizabeth Cobbe, July 31, 2020

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
Those Pizza-Tossin' Dough Boys, Peached Tortilla's Fat City, and a Whole Lotta Schmears Going On
Those Pizza-Tossin' Dough Boys, Peached Tortilla's Fat City, and a Whole Lotta Schmears Going On
All the news that's fit to get your taste buds quivering

Aug. 5, 2020

Can You Still Get Coffee from Little City, Though?
Little City Coffee?
Or is that a nostalgia-tinted dream of old-school townies?

Aug. 3, 2020


CAMIBAart, Lee Albert Hill, Troy Campa

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle