Between a traditional series of etchings that illustrate a story – Chagall’s Aesop’s Fables or Goya’s The Disasters of War for example – and the peculiar, privately coded, personal narratives that artists feel compelled to have brought forward; falls the shadow. It is within this shadowy realm that Tyler Hilton fabricates his tale of dubious reference and peppery wit. The characters move from page to page enacting their destinies, fraught with the muddle of emotions, sexual innuendo and perplexity that riddles the young. Overlaid on a clean technological background, the characters magically transport from situation to dilemma. The main character, a lanky, randy young woman with a mixed ethnicity, sports a photogenic hairstyle reminiscent of cinematic fame or Japanese animation. Neither youth nor age oriented, his contemporary myth updates yore as within the twenty visual frames, he forms a tale of his own telling; one that relates to earlier told stories (most notably Alice in Wonderland) but rests in an orientation brought into line with the twenty first century. Hilton’s ‘Alice’ is whimsical yet hardy. She is feminine yet more adolescent than womanly. She enters ‘wonderland’ through a clothes dryer in search of a sock and once there explores her sexuality with the appetite of a depraved libertine.
The skill evident in the etchings is part and parcel of the surrender to the journey that we are willing to take alongside of the heroine and the unique and often bizarre perspectives as the corner is rounded from page to page is well worth the attention spent. Each piece is compositionally able to stand unattended by the precedent and aftermath of the scene depicted. The lines are expressive. The darks are deliciously rich. Falling within the dramatic layout of film noire or gothic illustrations, this ambitious project measures up to the daunting task of holding interest over time.
In the past, Hilton has exhibited a fascination with morbid and theatrical subject matter with his drawings of cats that are far from fluffy pussies. He continues to wrench emotive content as he brings the subject closer to relativity (nearly-believable characters, all close to Brighton in age and style). The work is not an easy read, for the enigmatic aura overshadows logic both sequential and referential, but like a flight above the clouds the air is rarefied and the realm visited well worth the ticket. Bright Hilton is at the beginning of what promises to be an interesting trip – a career to be followed with interest.
Copyright © 2007, Julie Oakes