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Michael Hilsman: Man on Bed

Man on Bed is a solo exhibition by Southern California artist Michael Hilsman, which appears in his work as a space for self-reflection, ubiquitous in the paintings, in what Jean Baudrillard called "paradisiac and inward-looking illusion".

Like the fictional facades of movie sets, the main illusion of the works is their flat appearance, which only enhances their metaphysical depth. The body studies its own contours in an infinite expanse. Loneliness is as abundant as sunlight. Lush gardens and empty horizons, bathed in twilight light, are places where the subconscious roams.

The work of Man on Bed for which the exhibition is titled seems unremarkable in both form and title. Like the analyst's sofa, the reclining chair is a device for daydreaming. Its pink interior is the ground he renders in disturbing detail, with a man's feet sticking out from under a blanket. Every nail gleamed, and the second toe of the left foot was bent at the tip, revealing a broken phalanx. These alien appendages, bony and sallow-skinned, are a metonymy of modern man’s estrangement from his own body, an increasingly objectified and pathological corpus. They illustrate what he describes as an effort " foreground the physical in order to highlight the unseen." At the same time, the blanket occupies the center floor of the painting, a white surface affixed to the canvas that is no longer blank, its many folds attracting the projection of our minds. Like the Shroud of Turin, it gives the impression of an otherwise invisible body, a talisman of artistic power that can stimulate the imagination in the midst of alienation and spiritual emptiness.
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