Commentary on ‘The New World Order: 1/20/2017’ series by Billy Hedel


A collection of art by Billy Hedel

At the Open Gallery, Vincennes IN – September 2017

Commentary – by Tom Loesch, Jr., manager, Billy Hedel’s Studio & Gallery

The body of work comprising The New World Order: 1-20-2017 was created during an ‘art sabbatical’ that Billy started in the early winter of 2016 and concluded in August 2017.   It represents one artist’s attempt to visually (and viscerally) interpret the chaotic and tradition up-ending events of the 2016 US elections and the ushering in of a new world order.  It is in keeping with a long history of social commentary art Billy has made at various points in his career, dating back to the 1970s and 1980s when he documented the lives of ordinary gay people during the early years of the LGBTQ rights movement and AIDS activism (“Bar Shots: The Chicago Cocktail Series”) and more recently his visual chronicles of hurricane survivors and their plight (“The Faces of Katrina” and “The Camp Marigny Story”).

Stylistically, A New World Order is a radical departure from the work for which Billy is best known in terms of material, method, and subject matter (which Open Gallery patrons will see during his October exhibit here).  It is an exploration not only of his own and others’ reactions to recent events, but also of modes of artistic expression he explored during his sabbatical.   Billy spent considerable time studying Expressionism and the Futurists and the arts during the Weimar Republic.  The work of Anita Berber, Otto Dix, and Franz Marc influenced this series, as did Steampunk style and work by younger generations of contemporary artists.

Although many of the works in this series are wall-mounted, it is primarily a three-dimensional show.  Billy turned away from traditional canvas and his usual media to create sculptures from found and repurposed materials, junk, and trash.  Works mounted in picture frames burst out of their background and move or reflect back to the viewer, while other pieces have multiple ways of being viewed.  This is an engineered and constructed body of work.  Two-dimensional works, whether on paper or canvas, only provide a backdrop, point of reference or spot of color to relieve a hard, bleak landscape.

Some of the work in this collection has been exhibited at the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana (A Man of the New World Order: 1-20-2017, first place, Art Noir, February 2017; My Tree of Life, The Tree of Life show, May 2017; Adam and Eve of the New World Order, Art in the City, June 2017) and at the Bokeh Lounge (3rd annual Billy @ the Bokeh Show, April 2017).  The exhibition at the Open Gallery is the first time the complete body of work has been collected and shown in its entirety.

Fearsome, fearful, unrelenting – welcome to The New World Order.

tl/BHS&G: 8-15-2017

Open Gallery - v3 Chief and 4 Freedoms 8-27-2017 1-51-27 PM 1944x2592

Billy Hedel’s ‘To H#ll With the Chief!’ stands in front of ‘The Four Freedoms Monument’ at The Open Gallery

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