Denzil Hurley

The post-conceptual paintings of Denzil Hurley (b. 1949, d. 2021) mix provisional construction methods rooted in the African diaspora with what he termed a “reductive” approach. Hurley immigrated from Barbados to the United States to study art and received his MFA from the Yale School of Art in 1979.

Hurley’s insatiable impulse to edit and repaint was a hallmark of his studio-centric life. The text-like bands of his “redact” series—accumulations of scraped, reapplied, and wiped-out-again paint—enact the erasure of history, or possibly its reconfiguration. His “sticks” are monochrome paintings attached to broom handles, like wordless protest signs. These series led to his “glyphs”: conjoined rectangular panels, often with their centers removed, which Hurley installed as mismatched grids. The way these works are built, one part touching the next, in harmony and disharmony, imparts a sense of improvisation and openness. Always, Hurley’s paintings are alive with color, bringing light to the artist’s musings on the limits of language.

Artist: Studio

Artworks

Denzil Hurley,

J2#1, Portal,

2015–2017,

87 × 30 × 9 in (220.98 × 76.2 × 22.86 cm)

Oil on canvas and wood element

 

Denzil Hurley,

Orange Glyph,

2019,

106 × 72 in (269.24 × 182.88 cm)

Oil on canvas, pole

 

Denzil Hurley,

Variant D,

2005–2006,

Oil on canvas, 76 × 60 in (193.04 × 152.4 cm)

 

Denzil Hurley,

Glyph C,

2002–2004,

70 ¼ × 50 ¼ in (178.435 × 127.635 cm)

Oil on canvas

Denzil Hurley,

3 Panel Glyph #2,

2012–2014,

60 × 56 in (152.40 × 142.24 cm)

Oil on canvas on panel and sticks

Denzil Hurley,

Glyph Within, Without and About #4,

2016–2018, 108 × 62 ½ in (274.32 × 158.75 cm)

Oil on linen with stick attachment

Denzil Hurley,

Glyph Within, Without and About #5,

2016–2018, 95 × 93 ¼ in (241.30 × 236.86 cm)

Oil on linen

Denzil Hurley,

Glyph Within, Without and About #7,

2016–2018, 88 ⅛ × 85 in (223.84 × 215.90 cm)

Oil on linen

Denzil Hurley,

ZBA2, Blue Glyph,

2016–2017, 102 × 41 ½ in (259.08 × 105.41 cm)

Oil on canvas and stick

Denzil Hurley,

Slat Glyph,

2016,

14 × 21 ½ in (35.56 × 54.61 cm)

Oil on linen

Denzil Hurley,

Yellow Glyph #1,

2012–2013,

22 × 23 in (55.88 × 58.42 cm)

Oil on linen with stick attachment

Denzil Hurley,

ZB3, Stacked Glyph,

2014–2016,

100 × 18 in (254 × 45.72 cm)

Oil on canvas and stick

Denzil Hurley,

Strip Glyph #1,

2019,

28 ½ × 19 ½ × 1 ½ in (72.39 × 49.53 × 3.81 cm)

Oil on linen

Denzil Hurley,

Glyph Strips #2,

2019,

28 × 19 ¾ × 1 ¾ in (71.12 × 50.165 × 4.445 cm)

Oil on linen

Denzil Hurley,

Equal Areas, Glyph Within, Without and About,

2016–2018, 51 ¾ × 74 ¼ in (131.45 × 188.60 cm)

Oil on linen with aluminum plate

Denzil Hurley,

Glyph Within, Without and About #2,

2016–2018,

Oil on linen with stick attachment

Denzil Hurley,

Coupled Glyph #A2,

2014–16,

61 ¼ × 42 ¼ in (155.575 × 107.315 cm)

Oil on canvas on panel and sticks

Installation Views

Installation view "Denzil Hurley: In Praise of Use" ICA Miami, 2024

Exhibitions

Denzil Hurley, To be pained is to have lived through feeling, Jun 1 – Jul 22, 2023
Denzil Hurley, Within, Without and About, Oct 26 – Dec 9, 2018
Denzil Hurley, Take a stick to it, put it on a line, Sep 8 – Oct 23, 2016

Publications

Denzil Hurley
Monograph, 2023

Press

Valentina Di Liscia "15 Art Shows to See in New York This July." Hyperallergic July 12, 2023

Blake Gopnik "What to See in N.Y.C. Galleries in July." The New York Times July 5, 2023

David Rhodes "Denzil Hurley: To be pained is to have lived through feeling." The Brooklyn Rail July/August

Robert Storr "Denzil Hurley (1949–2021)." Artforum August 4, 2021

Tom McGlynn "Doing What Comes Naturally: Seven Painters in Their Prime." The Brooklyn Rail July 1, 2019

Emilia Dubicki "Spring 2019 Highlights." The Woven Tale Press June 18, 2019

Sue Taylor "Denzil Hurley." Art in America October 24, 2017

Blake Gopnik "Denzil Hurley’s Monochromes-on-a-Stick: Corn-dog Reinhardts?." Artnet September 23, 2016

Eric Lin "Hey you! See this show!." Yale Daily News April 15, 2016

Marc Trujillo "The Influence of Andrew Forge." The Huffington Post December 5, 2014

Erin Langner "‘Black & White & Red All Over’: Denzil Hurley & Robert Storr." New American Paintings April 27, 2012

Danilla Rumold "Economy of Means: Robert Storr & Denzil Hurley." Contemplative Process April 26, 2012

Robert Ayers "A Rare Chance: Robert Storr Paintings at Seattle’s Francine Seders Gallery." Seattle Times April 13, 2012

Matthew Kangas "Creating, and enjoying, art for the sake of art." The Seattle Times February 17, 2006

Regina Hackett "Painter Denzil Hurley's layers of labor are a pleasure for the viewer." The Seattle Post-Intelligencer February 9, 2006

"Selections from the Burnett Miller Collection." Artdaily February 22, 2005

"The Art of Reduction: Denzil Hurley Interview." McClain Johnson October 26, 2004

Regina Hackett "'Big and Small' paints a wide swath of expressive abstraction." Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 5, 2004

Regina Hackett "SAM survey brings Minimalism into the present." Seattle Post-Intelligencer August 3, 2003

Marilu Knode "The Seattle Scene." Artnet 1997

Colin Gardner "Wilshire Center." Los Angeles Times July 18, 1986

CV

b. 1949, Saint Michael, Barbados

d. 2021, Seattle, WA

  • Education

    • 1979

      MFA, Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT

    • 1975

      BFA, Portland Museum Art School, Portland, OR

  • Selected Solo Exhibitions

    • 2024

      In Praise of Use, Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL

    • 2023

      Denzil Hurley: To be pained is to have lived through feeling, curated by Gervais Marsh, Canada, New York, NY

    • 2018

      Within, Without and About, CANADA, New York, NY

    • 2017

      Denzil Hurley: Disclosures, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA

    • 2016

      Take a stick to it, put it on a line, CANADA, New York, NY

    • 2007

      Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC