Richard Hawkins’s painted ceramic tiles look like fragmented ornaments rescued from the temple of a cult that held abjection and profanity sacred. Some are narrative scenes in pastel tones on white; Vomiting Shaman and Heroin Priest (all works 2016) shows a humanoid with lumpy hips and pendulous breasts amid amoebic figures and spiked balls, all gathered in a suggestion of celestial conflict. In The Hanging of Judas from the Asshole of God two bulbous women look on in awe as objects fall out of the multicolored cavern beyond a gaping anus. Other tiles approximate devotional idols, with sculptures of hardened clay affixed to the tiles’ flat surfaces. Judas of Norogachi leans forward from a rounded perimeter of tiles, as if emerging from an oven. His grooved and pockmarked body is pierced by candles, pencils, and other pointy utensils. Hawkins made the series while researching a 1936 journey to Mexico by Antonin Artaud, the French playwright and theorist. Artaud never found the pure indigeneity, untainted by European colonization, that he sought, but he spent some time living among the Tarahumara people, whose beliefs regarding sex and death informed his subsequent work. Hawkins’s paintings are an idiosyncratic reconstruction of their religion, and of Artaud’s own mythologization of them.
Pictured: Richard Hawkins: Nawiki, Father God the Hermaphrodite, 2016, glazed ceramic in artist’s frame. 22¾ by 25¾ by 1â? inches. Courtesy Greene Naftali, New York.