Mr. Wizard

Hawkinson's body is still present in subtle ways. One gallery features a tiny cracked egg, a delicate bird skeleton, a single feather, and a spiderweb. Each object is made out of Hawkinson: the egg from ground- up fingernails, the spiderweb and feather from his hair, and the bird from his nail clippings. It's heartrending to think about this marvelous little bird springing, literally, from his fingertips.

Finally, there is Pentecost(1999). Bigger than one of Richard Serra's Torqued Ellipses, and one of the largest indoor sculptures I have ever seen, Pentecostis an enormous fake tree made from hollow tubes and who knows what, and painted in faux wood grain. From the trunk sprout branches supporting 12 three-dimensional, life-sized figures— self portraits, it turns out. The whole mega-thing is mechanized so that the figures tap out different Christmas carols with various parts of their bodies: kneecap, nose, penis, ear, etc. It's like some mad apocalyptic crèche. The Bible says the Pentecost is when the Holy Ghost appeared to the 12 apostles and caused them to "speak with other tongues." Similarly, Hawkinson wants to speak in other aesthetic languages. But for all its size and inventive engineering, Pentecostremains mute. It taps and taps, but it can't speak to anyone. Its tongues have turned to gibberish. It's sad.

Hawkinson is a master of the makeshift, a king of the thingamajig: Pentecost (detail, 1999) at Ace.
Robin Holland
Hawkinson is a master of the makeshift, a king of the thingamajig: Pentecost (detail, 1999) at Ace.

The first New York Ace exhibition suggested that Hawkinson was heading toward the center. This show reveals that he may be content to remain on the periphery, down in the basement. I bet I'm not the only one who wants him to come upstairs.

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