Event on the Downs - Haroun Hayward @ Hales Gallery
Similar shapes, painterly scrapings, and their orientations repeat throughout the frames of Event on the Downs. Haroun Hayward’s visually clean and ordered aesthetics prove to be extremely hypnotic in exhibition, with each panel posing a different cadence, or inflection, on the same set of influences. This plurality produces an entrancing rhythm, each painting restating the same thing again and again and again, in differing but equally regimented ways.
The thudding bass of repetition that echoes through the show reaches a crescendo among the multiple framed watercolours, sixteen total, mirroring each other across either side of the space. The same undulating form, rearranged in different colours across each work; the spectacle of similarity is impactful, providing an immediate route into the logics at play.
It is not surprising, that Hayward describes his painting practice as being rooted within a contemporaneous idea of remixing or reworking music, of course it isn’t out of the ordinary for a visual artist to ‘work through’ a particular set of forms or references, using the production of work as a method to move closer to a place of understanding or synergy with a subject, but within Hayward’s work he lays this intimate process impressively bare – each composition remaining the same only varying colour providing the inflection.
He likens this methodology to the process of sampling, a notable technique utilised extensively within house music, dividing each of his work on panel into sections – the top section a freely formed abstract composition, the lower left a re-imagining of the late works of Paul Nash, and in the lower right a symbol informed from Hayward’s mother’s textile collection. Each element is formed into its own geometric allocation, compartmentalised in formal sense, but this approach to construct a grammar of painting feels necessitated to weave together these cultural fragments.
808 State (Wittenham Clumps No.1), 2023 and 808 State (Wittenham Clumps No.2), 2023, 2023, form a particular moment in the exhibition where the plurality of form is most apparent. The two panels, displayed in diptych, invite immediate cross-comparison, aided by their stark contrasting palette – baby blue and pale pinks pervade across No.1, while No.2 is a much richer, darker affair with scratched earthy red umber overlapped by forest green. The reference to the Wittenham Clumps, a site of wooded hills in South Oxfordshire, favoured by Paul Nash – as location he routinely returned to over the course of his life, is emblematic of Hayward’s deep affinity with these subjects – and it sparks a neat moment of inception whereby we are witnessing an artist referencing their interests via another, showing how this drive overlaps across recent history.
Considering how modern technology, and contemporary image culture has levelled history to a point where everything exists in the same networked space, Hayward’s work feels like an addressing or acknowledgement of this network and everything beyond. To reassess one’s own genealogies through their disparate interests, and personal histories, noticing the tangential links and connections feels germane at this time, where there is an attendant desire to sift through, control and organise our place among our ever-changing world.