Space 776 is pleased to announce the showing of a new body of paintings by New York City artist Nataliya Hines titled At Rest, building on the success of her last show Sighthound. Created between September 2017 and March 2018, the body of work contemplates as well as investigates the presentation of a singular subject removed from a specific narrative framework. Each painting depicts a whippet, a popular breed of racing dogs in Europe and North America. The title for the work reflects the somnolent composure of the dog in each work.
One of the inspirations for choosing the whippet as the subject of these paintings is their uniquely complex history with humans as a breed of domesticated canines. In Medieval England, whippets were yet to be considered a distinct breed of dog and were referred to as merely small greyhounds. Due to their petite size, they were not qualified to be stag hunting dogs and were barred from being such by forest law. The rejected small greyhounds would then be intentionally maimed before being returned to their breeders; typically achieved by severing a tendon on one leg or removing toes from one paw so as to ensure the breeders would not resend the same dog. The rejected dogs were later bred together as ratters, vermin catching dogs, eventually being recognized as a separate breed from their greyhound progenitors. Due to both the greyhound and whippet’s historical association with nobility and status these breeds have been depicted in fine art through various periods, including the works of Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Pompeo Boatoni, and Lucian Freud.
This series is an expansion on the previous body of work, titled Sighthound in that it is also allegorical. Whippets contain a dichotomy as a breed in the form of a complex history that is associated with both stigma and a reputation of tenderness. They are sensitive to touch and have been observed to be easily startled in response to unanticipated contact. Their gentle temperament is recognized to an extent that they are recommend for families with small children. Indoors there are known to be non-combative and sedentary, while outdoors sometimes will jolt and chase something on an instinctual impulse. The whippet, as well as the greyhound, belong to a class of hunting breeds known as sighthounds - also the title of Hine’s last collection of works, a suite of dichromic prints. This class of hunting dogs is characterized by their sense of sight as opposed to smell, coupled with their speed and agility they have become the preferred breed for such sport as hare coursing and lure racing insofar as they have become colloquially know as “the poor man’s racehorse” in Lancashire and Yorkshire, England.
The history of the whippets’ development as a breed is the context which I seek to insulate it from. Each painting is thus executed according to a strict limitations. In acrylic, aquarelle, and gouache each painting depicts a single sleeping whippet rendered in grayscale against a uniformly matte colored background. The slumbering whippets therefore appear to be floating in a void from which they are distinguished from by a high gloss medium. Although they are at rest, the luster of the whippets hints at the boundless energy coiled up inside these small dogs.