From Greg Hildebrandt's Kid Stuff series, 21st Century is the third painting in the Ray Gun sub-set. While the name is clearly a Buck Rogers reference, it is a superficial connection at best. Through this science fiction imagery, Hildebrandt seemingly chastises modern man and our refusal to listen and compromise. Even in death, the skeleton clings to its ideological weapons. Each representing equal and opposing ideals fired in mutually assured destruction. If they bring about the end of us all, so be it. Win at any cost. This painting is not without hope, however. Hildebrandt uses a tertiary lighting scenario to bring life to an otherwise inanimate object, subtly hinting that perhaps there is a third and better way.
Greg Hildebrandt (American, b. 1939)
21st Century, August 2021
Acrylic on Canvas
38 X 52 inches (96.52 X 132.08 cm)
Some of his most intriguing and thought-provoking works to date,
Kid Stuff is the latest collection of still-life paintings by Greg Hildebrandt. In this series, Hildebrandt explores the passage of time and the deterioration that naturally comes with age by cracking the seal on his toy chest and exposing the viewer to its inhabitants. By painting his childhood toys as they appear now, weathered and torn, Greg Hildebrandt masterfully evokes simultaneous feelings of nostalgia and unease; Bringing a smile to the face, all the while knowing that something is not quite right. In these larger-than-life depictions, the artist carefully renders every detail, paying particular attention to the way the light scatters across the surface, highlighting every crack, wrinkle, fold, and blemish.
Using a spotlighting technique, Greg Hildebrandt paints a stark contrast between the subject and the darkened abyss in which it sits, establishing compositions that confront the viewer and demand attention. Despite the darkened persona with which these puppets first appear, the viewer can surmise the love and affection Hildebrandt has for the toys themselves through the subtle brushwork. By rendering these toys with such exquisite detail, Hildebrandt has elevated the subjects above their earthly status. Capturing their portraits is the highest honor he can bestow.
With this in mind, it is clear that naming the series
Kid Stuff is a tongue-in-cheek swipe at the establishment that has so often looked down on things Hildebrandt is passionate about, refusing to acknowledge the artistry and dismissing it as