Lisson Gallery

Hugh Hayden: American Food

London, 12 March – 31 July 2020

Hugh Hayden: American Food

Lisson Gallery is pleased to present Hugh Hayden’s first solo exhibition in the UK. It is also the first to directly engage with Hayden’s culinary installation practice, bringing together wooden picnic tables, cast-iron skillets, and a multimedia stove to reflect on the history and significance of cooking and dining together in America. 

Influenced by his background as an architect – in particular designing concepts for new restaurants – Hayden is interested in African cultural inflections on food, art and music. Hayden considers Southern cooking the first uniquely American cuisine, having originated in kitchens run by the enslaved cooks, who infused recipes with African tastes, ingredients and techniques. For the artist, Texas-born and New York-based, the African origins and contributions in the creation of America’s cuisine are equally embedded in the country’s cultural and economic development and lasting infrastructure. More specifically, Hayden is “interested in celebrating the indebtedness to African origins in the cooking – as a form of creation of America, Western culture and Modern Art”.

The exhibition will feature a variety of new and recent works, including 26 ‘skillets’, recast from a unique pairing of a wooden West African-style mask and a found cast iron frying pan. The function and form of both the skillets as early African cookware and the masks’ ancestral and ceremonial origins are merged in a technique called sand-casting; Hayden adopts this rudimentary means of manufacture to celebrate the imperfectness of the materials, their colonial histories, and the inherent loss of detail in the reproduction process. Hayden likens the abstraction of the original objects that occurs in the sand-casting process as a form of diaspora that transforms the skillets into something layered and culturally syncretic. The artist also holds this mirror up to his own identity as an African American: an abstraction on the African antecedent.

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Works on view

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27 Bell Street

Opening Times:
Tuesday – Saturday: 11:00am – 6:00pm

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