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The Cadaques Paintings of Don Hazlitt

Flowered Landscape, 1997
Oil on canvas
24" x 18"

Painted in vivid and lively colors that resonate with the heat of the Spanish sun, the Cadaques paintings of Don Hazlitt abound in allusions to the paintings of earlier periods. Significantly, in their abstracted representation of architectural interiors and exteriors, landscape, and still life, they encourage subliminal associations to Sienese paintings of the Renaissance. Historically, it seems, these Sienese paintings influenced the cultural life of Catalonia, where Hazlitt, inspired by a 1996 residency grant in Cadaques from Catherine Sagnier Skira, picked up on the lively dialogue between past and present, entering it in a manner that is very much his own.

In Hazlitt's rich paintings we also see the visual lexis of Miro, Dali, Picasso, and Magritte—twentieth-century predecessors who had earlier been drawn to the Costa Brava haven on the Mediterranean Sea. The forms of de Chirico also seem to replay in Hazlitt's canvases'setting up still another set of subliminal associations.

Deft recapitulations of Renaissance perspective, energetic forms, and bursts of spatial play, never heavily metaphysical or surreal, are subtly deployed in the modernist arrangements that characterize Hazlitt's paintings. Shapes repeat, phrasing and paraphrasing, providing a themed landscape that lures us and keeps us off guard.

Inherent in works from the Trecento and Quattrocento periods is an implied narrative, typically iterated in a play of allusions and through pure geometric shapes. Hazlitt smartly recreates these qualities in his appealingly intimate canvases. His "Annunciation," for example, brings the viewer back to the original fourteenth-century references of Duccio or Giovanni di Paolo — paintings in which narrative creates highly dramatic tension.

The ambiguous spaces and shapes in Hazlitt's paintings create further dramatic tension, drawing the viewer in as a spectator looking through a proscenium arch.  Though small in size, the Cadaques paintings present a series of grandly theatrical settings in which objects and forms disport themselves in complementary rhythms of visual dissonance and harmony.

In Hazlitt's paintings of this period, echoes of history are always wittily coupled with contemporary painterly concerns. He travels far, yet he interprets in a strictly personal vocabulary. Thus, his visual translations reenact the charged tension between "tradition and the individual talent" that challenges all artists whose work is truly original.

--Dee Shapiro


Annunication, 1996
Oil on canvas
24.5" x 14.25"


Easter '97, 1997
Oil on canvas, wood
16" x 13"


Grave, 1997
Oil on canvas, wood
14" x 12"


Snow Cap, 1997
Oil on canvas, wood
24.5" x 14.25"


Renaissance Space, 1995
Oil on canvas
14" x 12"


The Key, 1996
Oil on canvas, wood
14" x 12"


Spanish Moon, 1997
Oil on canvas, wood
22" x 18"


Cadaques, 1996
Oil on canvas, wood
16" x 13"




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