Tim Hussey Adrift with Purpose

Tim Hussey is a fine art painter, larger than life persona, who consistently searches out opportunities to express his unique style of narrative. Tim’s home and work centers in downtown Charleston, SC where his Southern charm and hard work ethic recently earned him a ten-year retrospective sponsored by the City of Charleston entitled, “Drown Then Swim.”

“Drown Then Swim” is appropriate, as when I first met Tim Hussey in Santa Fe, NM twelve years ago, he was blazing a trail art directing well read magazines and applying his talent to the editorial departments of Rolling Stone, New York Times, Esquire, GQ and more. Tim always had an eye for detail while paying close attention to his fine art all along the way.

Tim Hussey’s latest painting blends figurative painting with the blur of abstraction into an oil pastel and graphite powder medley of movement entitled, “Adrift 3” featured in “Lucid Dreams” opening July 8 to August 9. In addition, a documentary featuring Tim, “Running by Sight,” by filmmaker Adam Boozer will premier on Wednesday, July 27 at the Noel-Baza Fine Art Gallery in San Diego. Looking forward and to prepare, I caught up with Tim to discuss a bit more about his process and where he’s headed these days. (Adrift 3 pictured above).

mM : You often describe your work as primitive, but upon close inspection, seems that the narrative is contemporary, dispelled beneath layers of pigment, graphic line and bits of ephemera. Please describe your approach and meaning to “primitive.”

Hussey : Actually I feel like others describe my work as primitive-- it's not my description of choice. I would say I work more from the unconscious, opening my mind and movements to a loosely organized library of compulsive markings. Somewhere along the line, my intellect weaves into the mess to give it a hint of sense, but the story is never clear, nor anything I’ve experienced in life is clear. The effect is a deliberate moment being illustrated, but crucial details are left out asking the viewer to come up with variations on the tale, as infinite storylines are available. My only reference to the "primitive" is stylistic rather than the concept behind a piece.

mM : What affects your work and its final outcome?

Hussey : Superficially, the effect is brought upon my love for each tool I choose to use. I love graphite and charcoal because of their implications-- they remind me so much of school, my first drawings, carpenter’s markings, all things utilitarian…

Beyond that, I become enamored with a texture, color and/or the combination of the two. I generally roll my eyes back in my head or squint or only look at my surface peripherally when I’m working. This helps my mind fill in the gaps of what it can't see, so I am not precious about my line or attached to a style. I often say that most of my pieces are made up of what I choose NOT to put in-- that's where the strength lies. By constantly envisioning what could be before making any marks, there is an unconscious effect on layering —sometimes never recognizing the layers I am working upon.

mM : How has your first retrospective, “Drown Then Swim,” affected you, your work and what you would like to pursue moving forward?

Hussey : That show affected me more than I could have imagined for sure. For the past 10 years, I have not only created little ambiguous narratives within each piece, but there was also an overarching big story. Once that big story was hung and put into a book, I was left not knowing where to go. First I said, “OK! Time to go HUGE.” I did a few pieces and then thought, where the hell do I store all this stuff? Then I thought "Go completely abstract-- keep it real!" But that didn't pan out either. Intermittently, I created some cool stuff, but I know it’s all headed somewhere that will turn my vision and career into a new direction. I’m a lot more patient with my work these days. The retrospective let me breathe, it said to me "You are legit. OK? Now calm down.”

Ultimately, I see I cannot plan where to go with it all. There is a hybrid of abstract, figurative, illustrative and nonsensical images that will work their way into my work at their own pace. I’m just the messenger.

mM : Please share a little bit about your recent work and where you are showing in the near future :

Hussey : I recently moved and have set up a tiny studio-- more of a lab, really. But now, I’m surrounded by racks and racks of all my favorite materials and some good things are happening. Abstract expressionism is prevalent in my work these days, as I have no patience in piddling around with stories and their so-called "deeper meanings". I want to be free for awhile and just let it come out. I recently joined Alan Avery Art Company in Atlanta, so I had a solo show there a few months back. Otherwise, as summer in the South sets in, everyone and everything stops. Other than group shows, I have no big plan for exhibiting until I feel a true body of work is at hand.

Sweet thanks to Tim Hussey and all good fortunes. One point of mention, and if you are interested, please contact me for details in regards to Tim’s “Drown Then Swim” full-color catalog featuring a celebration of 10 years of painting with introduction by Shepard Fairey. Looking forward to sharing out your new painting “Adrift 3.”

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