KHFA exhibition archives

Shop Constructions and Drawings from The Hill

James Magee
September 6-October 12, 2013
Opening reception Friday, September 6, 6:30-8:30 pm
Artist in attendance

Artist James Magee has created a compelling body of work rarely made visible to the public. The 2010 exhibition at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Revelation: the Art of James Magee, marked his first major museum exhibition in 18 years. Kirk Hopper Fine Art is proud to announce an exhibition focusing on Magee's shop constructions and drawings. Despite their varying mediums, each work relates to Magee's ongoing project, The Hill.

For over three decades, Magee has been engaged in a massive, largely undisclosed project in the vast plains of West Texas, entitled The Hill. Located on 2,000 acres of desert land east of El Paso, The Hill is a tightly ordered complex consisting of four identical stone buildings, linked by raised causeways to produce a cruciform layout. Three of these buildings house enormous installations by Magee. According to the art scholar-critic Richard Brettell, the Magee Hill is a "fully mature work that incorporates a complex, deeply personal and profoundly urban consciousness into an utterly working-class mode of production, one rooted in the artisan's world of metal shops, stone masonries and auto repair garages." A painter, sculptor, poet and videomaker, Magee here reveals himself to be an architect, engineer and builder as well.

About James Magee

The sculptural reliefs featured in this exhibition are a result of Magee's constant experimentation with his ongoing Hill project. In his large shop located in El Paso's industrial sector, Magee constructs installations for The Hill, but also experimental works. In making such works, he perfects techniques that come into play when constructing future Hill installations. His sculptural reliefs consist of an array of materials: glass, lead, wire mesh, rubber, grease, shellac, brake fluid, ceramic tiles, bits of iron, even honey and paprika. As stated by the Nasher, "often framed in steel behind protective glazing, the works function as poetic paradoxes, preserving the broken, rusted, decaying materials they contain."

In addition to the sculptural reliefs, Kirk Hopper Fine Art will also exhibit Magee's shop drawings relating to The Hill. Drawing constitutes an integral part of Magee's artistic process. When he arrived in El Paso in 1981, Magee brought with him a battered leather suitcase filled with sketchbooks, including hundreds of drawings and studies for the Hill complex. Magee's shop drawings similarly serve as working studies, documenting the mechanics of his sculptural pieces. According to Brettell in "James Magee: The Hill," the "graphic" Magee is prolific, complex, and non-linear. The shop drawings are crucial elements to understanding the work of Magee, serving as a pictorial record of his thought process, but also revealing the range of his imagination.

A site of national and even international stature, The Hill is the life's work of James Magee. His shop constructions and drawings featured at Kirk Hopper Fine Art serve as essential components of his ongoing project and provide insight on the intriguing Hill.

More on James Magee

James Magee, Fragmented Glass Series, mixed media