Mark Hilton - Half Flush
Each drawing in New York-based Australian artist Mark Hilton’s new artist's book Half Flush adopts a duality that can't help but to stir something in the viewer. Using the standard pack of cards as his organising principle, Hilton mixes desire, degradation, contamination, zealotry and violence into a brew often sweetened by humour. Each suit has a theme that works more as a starting point than a defining rule: diamonds are class; hearts are religion; spades are nationalism; clubs are the environment. Using graphite pencil on white paper, Hilton employs a range of styles, from highly intricate realism to cartoons and simple line sketches. In the spirit of playing card design, all his drawings have a direct, emblematic quality, not unlike the illustrations in old books and magazines. In addition to this, Hilton uses the two-way design of the playing card as the basis for the series’ double-meanings and double-readings, although unlike conventional cards, most of his do not contain perfect mirror images. The ten of clubs, for instance, shows an overweight person on a scale. From one vantage, we read his or her weight; from the other, we make out the word “obese”. The design on the back of the cards is also irregular – while it shares the intricate patterning common to many packs, it seems to depict a bell-shape entering a flowery hole (and there’s no prize for guessing what that alludes to). The book features an essay by John Thomson, co-director of Foxy Production, New York.