The most thematically powerful aspect of “Chimera,” a two-person show featuring work by Adrian Hatfield and Amy Sacksteder, is not the way each artist amalgamates media or imagery, but the rather seamless and literal blending together of these two separate bodies of work, creating a chimera in and of itself. The show opened at Detroit’s Popps Packing gallery, a two-time Knight Arts grantee, on Jan. 23. As the title would suggest, it trades heavily on the blending of organic imagery into something imaginary or mythic.
The majority of Hatfield’s work aligns with the origins of the chimera, a creature from Greek mythology comprised of a fire-breathing lion’s head, a goat’s body and a serpent’s tail. But his spare and disturbing oil-on-linen paintings showcase subjects that are the melding of the back ends of animals–a kangaroo with the head of a lion’s hindquarters; the undercarriage of an octopus fused with the wing of a parrot; a lamb morphing into the hind legs of a rabbit. Adding to the alienating nature of these images, the creatures are pinioned or hung in abstract space–with at least one leg literally tethered or hanging from hooks, while the other set of legs sprawls or tries to run free. The backgrounds are vibrant fields of color, some with discernible imagery, like flowers or outer space, some that are abstracted ombre washes of peach, pink or red, with high-contrast black patches that give them landscape-like depth, even in abstraction.