Art: Urban Romance

Urban romance
Bryce Hammond … all new works
Through June 11 at Millenia Fine Art
555 S. Lake Destiny Drive 407-304-8100

Bryce Hammond's solo exhibition at Millenia Gallery opened May 1, featuring new works by the New Smyrna Beach artist. Hammond is an urban romantic painter, creating shimmering, colorful, crisp perspective paintings that elevate the overlooked, the ordinary and the forgotten parts of contemporary urban life. Populated with spray-paint tags, faded billboards and layers of signage, peeling paint, rust and grime, his images create depth and are filled with stunning bright light. The strong colors and full light overshadow the dirt and the rust, which are rendered lovingly and beautifully as well.

The romantic aspect of this work is its tie to Hammond's past, for the spray-paint art and references to himself and his children all come through as clues in his work. The one-point perspective renderings provide a series of receding planes on which these symbols are overlaid, and they seem to stand in the foreground, with the darker, brooding superego of the city often looming in the background, as in "School Lunch/King Beer." By contrast, his tabletop series evokes the populuxe era of the 1950s, and shadowy representations of happy American couples play upon the Formica tabletops and surrounding surfaces.

By choosing these empty stage sets into which to project his vision, Hammond plays tricks on the viewer; the paintings are often packed with notes in the corners, spray-painted fragments and other items that negate the tough urban images, as well as throwing a sense of flatness into the depth that he's created. While these paintings are retinally delicious, their emptiness is psychologically haunting, and after viewing this show, one feels that the city has a sense of vulnerability, a too-bright showiness, perhaps a forced smile about it.

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