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Geometric Precision: Painting by Tom Hackney

A geometric abstract painting of a chess matchChess Painting No. 71 (Marcel Duchamp vs. E.H. Smith Hyeres, 1928), gesso on linen with oak frame

Tom Hackney employs geometric precision on both two-dimensional and three-dimensional surfaces, creating works that seem to jump off the walls – sometimes literally. The relatively subdued colour choices that are favored by the artist seem to add to the sharpness of his lines.


An abstract painting with many pixels of colour4096 Hours of Daylight, oil on aluminum panel

In his most recent work, Hackney has been creating paintings that are based on the chess games of Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp collaborated with master chess player Vitaly Halberstadt to write a book on the subject in 1932. Drawing from this book, Hackney uses a kind of visual code to paint the positions and movements of chess pieces throughout the game, ending with a single static image.


I’m really fascinated with the way Hackney incorporates this mathematical system of coding into his works, and even more so with the idea of deciphering it. The coded nature of the art reminds of of the work of Amarie Bergman. Hackney’s black and white paintings mimic the look of classic chess boards and pieces, while his more colourful works directly reference a colour-coded set that Duchamp created. 


A coloured geometric painting referencing a chess matchChess Painting No. 61 (Duchamp vs. Hanauer, New York, 1952), Gesso and acrylic on linen, walnut frame

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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