Hayley Tompkins ‘Think I wanna drive your Benz (I don't)’

The Modern Institute, 3 Aird's Lane, Glasgow
15/09/2018—03/11/2018

Reise faces the viewer directly upon entering the space. A transparent rainbow fabric is stretched over a large wooden frame – from afar, as if a hallucination of a painting (or, as likened by Laura McLean-Ferris, a ‘ghost in party clothes’, from her essay ‘There, There, There; On Hayley Tompkins’). By structure – the fabric as a canvas, hung on the wall, it has that resemblance to a painting. But beyond that, the similarities end. Tompkins subverts that expectation intentionally by liberating the centre (save for a few small globs of paint appearing in unpredictable patterns) and migrates all the content to the edges. On the periphery, Tompkins’ applies coats of green and blue to the inside of the frame. Intimate small-scale paintings on paper share the corner with supermarket leaflets and coupons. Glossy images – developed using instant photo developing services – depict fragments of daily routine, from the inside of a washing machine to a crop of the artist’s knee. These fragments find themselves interwoven and repeated through the new body of work Tompkins’ presents for her new solo exhibition ‘Think I wanna drive your Benz (I Don’t)’.

The seemingly arbitrary instances captured in these images are an emphasis on singularities of these moments, as well as an act of collecting, storing and remembering this material. There is undeniably an exploration of the relationship between interior and exterior – Tompkins uses her mobile phone to capture from above four tomatoes sitting on a white cloth in her flat with the unequivocal matter-of-fact method she has towards documenting a parked Mercedes Benz (a nod to the show title and the 2001 Jennifer Lopez song ‘Love Don’t Cost a Thing’ it is derived from). Tompkins’ approach does not entertain hierarchy or separation – the individual elements instinctively interact with one another.

Navigating the installation, we become privy to Tompkins’ acts of cutting, splicing, matching (or perhaps more accurately mismatching) the photographs, working their way into the pieces. The images are glued or stapled on painted bits of balsa wood to protrude unexpectedly from the wall, hung off multi-coloured string or often coupled with a metal tray sharing a surface with gestural streaks of paint, jointly creating a common language through the installation that is very particular to Tompkins’ idiosyncratic way of seeing.

A new group of multi-coloured Digital Light Pools – an ongoing series of paintings in plastic trays by Tompkins – are installed throughout the space. Hung low to suggest or invite an intimate viewing, the height negotiates a different perspective of the works. Bearing a resemblance to landscapes, they are rendered in a multitude of hyper hues – in a row, we find luminous yellows avalanching a Fanta orange, a delicate peach tone interspersed with veins of bright lemon, amongst dominant pinks. These sceneries are built with Tompkins manipulation and layering of paint, each piece can vary from a spontaneous gesture to layered and reworked arrangements. We are witnessing a meditation on duration, a practice that democratically employs and values both the premediated and the unpredictable.


Hayley Tompkins (b. 1971 Leighton Buzzard; Lives and works in Glasgow) studied BA Painting and MFA at The Glasgow School of Art. She represented Scotland at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013

Selected solo presentations include: Stick Crystals to Paintings, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn (2018); Lulu, Mexico City (2016); Myth Cart, Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh (2016); Technicolour Hamburger, The Drawing Room, Hamburg (2015); Electric Magnetic Installation, The Modern Institute, Aird’s Lane, Glasgow (2015); The Common Guild, Glasgow (2014); Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2013); Currents, Studio Voltaire, London (2011); A Piece of Eight, The Modern Institute, Osborne Street, Glasgow (2011); Autobuilding, Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2009); and Re, The Drawing Room, London (2008).

Selected group presentations include: British Art Show 8, touring: Leeds, Edinburgh, Southampton and Norwich (2015 – 2017); I still believe in miracles, Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2016); The Persistence of Objects, Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore, curated by the Common Guild (2015); The Grass is Singing, Mendes Wood DM, São Paolo, curated by The Modern Institute (2015); I Cheer a Dead Man’s Sweetheart, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill (2014); The Imminence of Poetics, São Paolo Biennale, Sao Paolo (2012); and Watercolour, Tate Britain, London (2011).

To coincide with the exhibition Think I wanna drive your Benz (I don’t), Tompkins’ new publication Stick Crystals to Paintings will be available, published in conjunction with Bonner Kunstverein on the occasion of the first major solo institutional presentation by Tompkins in Germany, which opened in spring 2018