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The Looking Glass is a virtual gallery space that exhibits artwork reflecting Hamish Hamilton’s dedication to the beautiful, meaningful and surprising things that enrich our everyday lives. Throughout 2013 The Looking Glass will be curated by award-winning novelist and art critic Lee Henderson.


A GREAT BOOK TEACHES YOU HOW TO READ

by Lee Henderson

Visual art and artists have been part of my life and a constant source of inspiration for me ever since I was very young. And now, as a novelist, I try to incorporate visual art and the ideas circulating through the contemporary art world into the kinds of stories I tell, how I tell them, and what I hope my books will look like.

For my collection of short stories, The Broken Record Technique, I asked the artist Marcel Dzama to provide drawings. For my novel, The Man Game, I knew from the very beginning that I wanted Javier Pinon’s collage on the cover and that I would make the figure drawings that appear within the text. For the novel I’m currently working on, I’m drawing a newspaper comic strip to include alongside the prose.

Trying to understand an artist’s process, and the means by which they practise their creative discipline, fascinates me, and challenges me to articulate the intellectual, the visual, and something of the inexpressible when I write on visual art for magazines like Border Crossings and The Walrus. The Attaché Gallery is my not-for-profit commercial art gallery in a hardshell briefcase that I opened in 2006 to curate portable works of art by emerging artists—in other words, an art gallery for anywhere outside the traditional gallery context.

I consider novels to be part of contemporary art, and I see Roberto Bolaño’s novels in relation to the work of Stan Douglas, and Junot Diaz stories in line with the rap rhymes of Juicy J. I am interested in the flow of ideas between the highbrow presentations at the contemporary art biennials, the capitalistic imperatives of the art fairs, the fuss and glory of the commercial galleries and public museums, and all the unexpected revolutions happening in the downtown artist-run centres.

I like artwork that scares me at first with a lack of familiarity. From Xeroxed minicomix to digital video to oil painting to readymades to concrete poetry to theoretical architecture—who knows better than the artist what shocks and fears we must overcome to see the value of the new. Don DeLillo, an American writer whose novels are deeply informed by visual art, has said that a “great book teaches you how to read it,” and I hope to present artwork here that teaches you how to see it.

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Artwork


Alison Yip "Dashboard"

Jeff Ladoucer "Braided Sea - Flood walker"

SUN Xun "Magician Party and Dead Crow"

Chen Fei "SKULL"

Mark DeLong "PRETTIEST GIRL IN THE AREA"

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Artists

Alison Yip
Jeff Ladoucer
SUN Xun
Chen Fei
Mark DeLong
Connor Willumsen
Elizabeth Zvonar
Brad Phillips
Barry Doupé