Michael Hilsman

Michael Hilsman

Born in 1984, Los Angeles, California. Lives and works in Pasadena, CA, USA.

Michael Hilsman makes non-literal paintings of objects and figures that explore the absurdity, magic, and latent spirituality of the physical world. 

Utilizing formats associated with classical painting such as portraiture and still life, and employing a wide visual vocabulary ranging from naturalism to expressionism, Hilsman builds monumental paintings whose objects and figures are in a state of dissolution and fragmentation, often seeming to disattach from themselves and form anew, appearing both familiar and foreign.

Whether it is the bulky male figures or the depictions of various flora and fauna, the figures and objects in Hilsman’s work have a frayed, tenuous connection to their own materiality. They are awkward, vulnerable, impermanent, and worn from the constant weight of reality. Fruits and vegetables appear bruised and the human body’s many absurdities and quirks are accentuated. Many times in Hilsman’s work solid images disappear and ethereal ones become concrete, locked in a state of reconciliation between physical and intangible experience.

Various objects and subjects reoccur in Hilsman’s work, such as teeth, walls, roots, shoes, hands or a figure drawn from the artist’s body. They have a specific nature in that they are vessels that hold their own essence prisoner, or the memory that we have of them. By referring in this way to the Proustian vision, Hilsman’s objects do not really have value in themselves, but serve as triggers of a memory or a deeper knowledge, a human experience both collective and personal. The narrative elements are fragmented, appearing as incomplete and mysterious details on the sidelines of an invisible main scene.

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