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In the November 2000 issue of Artforum, Richard Hawkins concluded his 'Top Ten' list - which included everything from Robert Altman's 1977 film Three Women (number 6) to 'Good stuff on TV this summer' (number 2) - with a rave for 'Any painting made without using masking tape', immediately followed by this zinger: 'If the masking tape factory burned down, there'd be no painting in LA for at least a season.' If you were cruising the galleries in southern California circa Y2K, you'd know he was hitting below the belt. Ouch.
Hawkins's jab was personal. Approaching the millennium, the Los Angeles-based artist had, almost unexpectedly, started making paintings - painterly paintings, with brushes, oil, canvas, etc. - after gaining some acclaim, and perhaps a little notoriety, in the previous decade for a body of seemingly off-hand, but genuinely unsettling work: objects of desire - presumably the artist's - extracted from mass media and subjected to erotically-charged, frequently violent treatment that one could safely refer to, for the sake of tradition, as 'collage' (or perhaps 'assemblage'). For example: Hollywood hard rockers cut from magazines and casually paper-clipped to latex ribbons of slashed Halloween masks (Poison, 1991) or to the margins of large sheets of coloured felt (Captive, Blue, 1993); inkjet prints incorporating images of a young, shirtless Matt Dillon or Dazed and Confused's androgynous stoner-in-training Wiley Wiggins against mildly psychedelic, primitive digital backgrounds (med.pink.matt.graveyard and med. yellow.wiley.classroom, both 1995); large inkjet prints of disembodied and bloody 'zombie'-fied (via Photoshop) heads of young, male actors floating in front of pretty pastel grounds (disembodied zombie guy peach, 1997, among others), etc.
In 2000, Hawkins exhibited a series of petite canvases at Corvi-Mora gallery in London.