Looking at a painting by Colin Hunt is like watching someone pass through a hole in our consciousness. As the landscape refracts through the sitter’s absence and fills that emptiness, the world remakes itself in the image of what has been lost. For the artist, these human-shaped portals operate between here and the hereafter, providing sublime solace in the shared human experience of grief. In So Much Remains to Be, his debut solo exhibition with Hirschl & Adler Modern, Hunt collapses the concepts of sitter and likeness, space and time by connecting the formal traditions of portraiture and American landscape painting. The resulting panels explore a collective intuition enveloping memory, humanity, and the afterlife. These themes may be heavy and particularly relevant in our present world, but Hunt’s paintings are tender and optimistic. The people we love and lose are always with us, absorbed and refreshed in the spaces we inhabit.
Central to the exhibition are four large paintings created in egg tempera on panel. Realized in the same scale as Whistler and Sargent’s grand portraits (81 x 41 inches), the nearly life-sized portals depict people known to the artist in landscapes of their own choosing. Their silhouettes sit centrally in the composition while the landscapes, rendered in exquisite detail, bend, invert and shift within their vacant space. Hunt merges figure and nature into a single identity which, despite the sitters’ connection to him, exude a universal and everlasting peace. Accompanying the egg tempera paintings are seven smaller paintings in watercolor on paper. Although the scale and the medium have changed, Hunt sacrifices none of the masterful handling while providing the same calm and comfort found in the larger panels. Additionally, these works on paper offer an intimacy and delicacy which underscores the tenderness of the exhibition. So Much Remains to Be presents a body of work which pushes beyond being about loss, providing the reassurance that our loved ones are never truly gone, and the hope that we can share their space again. As the exhibition title suggests, there is so much about here and the hereafter still to be realized.