Jeff Bailey Gallery is pleased to present Timothy Hull, Sophist Leaving Syria, an exhibition of new paintings and drawings.
Sophist Leaving Syria is a 1926 poem by the Alexandrian poet C.P. Cavafy. The poem implores a Sophist who is leaving Syria to include in his writings on Antioch the beauty of a young male prostitute named Mebis.
It is unclear in whose voice the poem is written, yet it is quite possibly someone in the retinue of the Sophist. Sophists were men of knowledge in the Hellenistic world, and they would travel across borders to teach classical Greek rhetoric and dialectics. The Sophist is a metaphor for knowledge and reason. Young Mebis is a metaphor for the sensual, Dionysian world. Through these metaphors, the poem establishes the dialectic of the body and mind.
There is a deep homosexual aspect to the poem - most of its lines celebrating the beauty of the young man. Its theme hints at the ancient Greek cultural and social relationship between the eromenos and erastes, or the male youth and older wise man.
The poem’s sad and emphatic tone conveys a sense of haste towards immortalizing fleeting beauty. This seems relevant to the recent and quick destruction of Syrian culture and heritage brought about by its civil war. The exhibition includes two drawings of temples within the ancient city of Palmyra shown as they appeared before being leveled by ISIS.
Syria was an important hub of Greek and Roman trade and learning. The fact that the man of reason is leaving Syria has contemporary parallels with the current mass exodus of refugees.
The paintings serve as poetic metaphors for the celebration of male beauty within the ancient Hellenistic world: the repetition of image that speaks to the constant evocation of the beauty of Mebis; and the rational, squared and geometric nature of the Sophist's mind.
There is a dense and complex intersection of ancient Greek and Arabic glyphs in the paintings. These patterns are sometimes mixed to create a slippage and mélange of meaning, pointing to the intersection of these cultures in the ancient world.
This is Timothy Hull’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. He received an MFA from Parsons School of Design, New York (2006). Recent solo exhibitions include Ashes/Ashes, Los Angeles (2016); Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York (2016) and Fitzroy Gallery, New York (2014). His work has been included in group exhibitions at Mitchell-Innes and Nash, The Hole, FRAC Lorraine, Tate Modern, the Morris Museum of Art, and the Nomas Foundation. He lives and works in Brooklyn and Warwick, New York.
Jeff Bailey Gallery is located at 127 Warren Street, Hudson, NY, 12534. Gallery hours are Friday - Sunday, 12-6 and by appointment. For further information or images, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518.828.6680.