Always, though, it’s the small detail – or the accumulation of them – that carries his pictorial narratives along.
A slip of paper is tucked into the back pocket of a gallery attendant in “Fate,” a 2005 picture showing several people engaged in the once common, now virtually obsolete act of perusing photographic slides of paintings in an art gallery’s inventory. What the paper slip might be is anybody’s guess; but its conspicuous presence in Hess’ composition is enough to make you think that surely it contains information meant to be remembered.
The outcome – the fate – of the artistic transaction taking place in the gallery’s back room looms as unpredictable if not entirely unknowable, subject to myriad back-pocket mysteries.
At the Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Park, 27 paintings plus a group of 32 individual portrait-panels, all made since 1978, survey Hess’