This is one of those things. It was a long form monograph done over several weeks in discussion with Jeff Hull. It was posted as a PDF to Netcom site I guess in 2008 or so, and so went missing. I found a manuscript version, which I am posting here. There is much I would dearly like to change, and maybe I will. (Truth be told, I am in a bit of a health funk in Feb 2017, and less gets done.) Actually did scrub out the original ending.
Doing this for the record. Jeff Hull died last Monday night at the age of about 64. He was a true pal, and we had some tremendous times together. Am putting together a Hull page on the site here. More to come.- Jack Vaughan
Walk the streets of a village within the city and hear the children singing The Ship Went Down, The Ship Went Down. A folk song. . .it will stick. Tells a story like the blues. The picture of the ship, its radio transmitting. It was always there. Titanic. Dit-dit-da-dit-dit dashes, arc sparks portending. Like an image from Jeff Hull in [[Title: Titanic Transmissions]]. It’s Saturday Night at the Movies. A Night To Remember. Dispatches and Discourse. Titanic Telegraphic Transmissions.
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The artist draws a thing from the stream and sets about to share it. It was there. And he got it. Hull bicycling down city alley hears the same sirens as the Edison man or the South End beautician or Harry the Greek, but the pictures adhere and he goes back to the loft with a vision - an itchin’ in the aorta. Drawings and paintings ensue. How do you do? There are all these old posters, sequenced, faded precisely on a wall, like marquee bulbs. He saw them – in Boston - and now it is aloft. Elektra! Bijou!
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Okay, so it’s in the air anyway.
In the day-o I talked with Mingus colleague and Son of Wooster Jaki Byard. Asked him where the images emerged that informed that sound. Might as well have talked to a fish about a helicopter -- or so I thought at first. How penetrate veil? There aren’t words for this stuff. Same with Jeff – words were like pulling teeth. The paint talks.
But back to our story – Jaki was at the Conservatory, bug-eyeing me like I was a crippled crab without a crutch. The sound? Where’s it come from? I stood my little plot of ground, probably empleading scowlfully.
Then Byard came around to the idea. Where does this stuff come from? It intrigued him. Back in Wooster I’d walk behind bands marching, digging on their rhythm, Jaki Byard said. The rhythm of the Lunceford Band. Movement was what he was about.
Bluesman Sunnyland Slim told me he’d hear birds sing. . .where does this stuff come from? That he’d remember men walking behind mules farming. These drifted into the music form. It was there and it found me said Irish bardster Van Morrison. Slack Key Ray Kane described a flower he could never forget. It was here before I was, said Bob Dylan. It’s the thing – it is not so much the thing as the thou from the stream to experience. From that which underlies the bubbling underground. With jets of cascading objects flowing, telecommuno-telepathico. Sproing! Spring? What’s Hull say?
* * *
I talked with Jeff Hull. Where’s it come from? Across Hull’s studio hanging on a sagging clothesline: drawings on clothespins. . .fluttering Chinese flags in space, like birds on a wire, if you read them, playing a song. He gets up in the morning and holds on to that Plow. The Plow of Paint, Color and Forms. They detonate, like the movie marquees. Moon Travelers!
Tossed and driven by an angry sea storm of life raging –
They are ink on paper - first think in the morning and often they call out the shape of something to pursue. Sometimes he will pursue a recognizable figure in oil. A hand. The Titanic. Nevertheless, the figure you can verbally grasp swims in an unutterable image pool. Might be looking for you too. There are few atheists in a lifeboat.
The discourse of the distant light bulb marquee. . .the rat-a-tat of the news dispatch. . . lifeboats are floating as the Titanic is sinking. By reckoning they meet a visual correspondent in recent works of painter Hull. Canvases represent anew the omnivorously pregnant image stream of the present day - in vividly exploded patterns – in marvelous animations of paint. Look out baby, there’s a planet coming!
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The paintings have bursts, areas that pop and expand (Hull admits), whirling impressions that put the literal against the mysterious – a swirl and Miwok People laugh in echo.
In this exhibit, he acknowledges, the shapes, many of them, are cleaner, broader, than many of his before. Some of them can resonate from the surface in startling manner – the viewer can visit these portions and rest for a while there. But the cool press of film objects are flipping celluloidoid at the edges too.
Jeff Hull’s paintings cut through and explode, exotic, rich and watery. And they swing like American music. The ordinary world is here, and is seen in a universe of visual indications.
As poet Ginsberg once called Corso a box of crazy toys. I call Hull [Title: Titanic Transmissions]. Cells of modern mind float on canvas, one painting entering another. Troglodyte images flopping along side stones emanating molecular progressions. Color is all over the place, and you are on a ride. This art is feedback in the visual plane - music on the Hull side in the domain of the eyeball.
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Active in terms of paint and stroke. The paint now more modeled, worked on, more traveled and fluid. The stuff pops up at you in spectral neural displays. It comes through the surface like lightning. You attach what you bring. Ferns, orbs, dripped shapes, and brain comets, not to mention an expressionist conch or two. All on the slide in time.
A Madonna becomes a sponge. Animated pearls talk Japanese baseball with papier-mâché tear ducts. The weather: Well, Jack, it is Extremely Cellular. Hull art glows with starfish pieta biological. Shapes. That Shuffle and organs that phantom on a Saturn night.
Shifting symbolisms that you can intercept, or walk in.
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There was a gentle fence between the circus of contemporary reality and the experience of art as recently as 50 years ago, but Hull is not about the fence. Unless it is lights shining. There in the fence days gone by-o there were lights on the fence in the nights of Weegee, Pollock, Monroe and Cornell. Movie goers, just as they entered the Bijou or Rialto, were briefly blinded by sequencing light bulbs on marquees. That was back in time.
Today these images, supplied for your pleasure by cyclist Hull, once experienced, remain - flash fractal tree limbs on retinas afterwards.
We are all in the swin - there is no wall, no usher’s partition. There is a sweet relief in knowing the Lord will make a way in the cloud to see somehow. Telegraph: Keep your hands on the Plow To Remember!