Display Cases in the Great Hall: Exhibition Archive


1 November 2016 – 11 January 2017

Silkscreens by Peter Hristoff

Peter Hristoff’s extraordinary silkscreened silhouettes echo the popular 18th and 19th century tradition of revealing profiles and silhouettes in shadow against a neutral plane.  These renderings capture an essence of personality with the profile or shadow of a figure against a white ground. The idea of a shade, or shadow, an image of death, is inherent in some of Hristoff’s other works, like his carefully handwritten Unfinished Scroll, an ongoing list of tribute, recording the names of those lost to AIDS since the crisis began in the 1980s. As meditative as these works are, Hristoff’s restless imagination finds an expanding personal encyclopedia of images and influences that he swirls into the practice of making delicate and original silhouettes.

Eleven years older than well-known silhouette artist Kara Walker, Hristoff has been making paintings and silhouette works since the 1980s, also focusing on issues of identity and sexuality. Recent works explore the theme of the individual in confrontation with weight, expressed in a figure seemingly startled, and open-mouthed, his arms outstretched as if wings to support his body. The figures appear to be classical forms, their deft beauty caught in an outline, without defining details, and yet completely limned by a strong energetic presence on the paper.

A man leans forward to touch his toes, his spine curled and bowed under the weight of a massive stack of boxes, like Atlas holding it all. Another figure in motion wrestles a crow, or a dove, that appears to arrive with purpose, somehow both spiritual messenger and unwanted visitor.  A man ejaculates an enormous bouquet of exquisite blooms while looking up, his pose suggesting surrender. The last man stands with an articulated skeleton draped across his shoulder. Dangling and gesturing bones offer a gesture to bless the man who carries them to the end.

Case One: Silhouettes: Untitled, 1996-2016, Silkscreen on paper, Varying sizes
Case Two: Silhouettes: Untitled, 1996-2016, Silkscreen on paper, Varying sizes

Curated by Lisa A. Banner