Our planet is currently being destroyed in two major ways. The first is environmental, as the effects of pollution take their irreversible toll on climate, flora and fauna. The second is the subject of Tim Hildebrandt’s devastating oeuvre: war. As a Vietnam vet, Hildebrandt knows this human scourge firsthand, and like Otto Dix did following his experiences in World War I, and as Aaron Hughes has done after his service in the Iraq War, Hildebrandt has made art out of destruction, creating works that convey the depths of horror unleashed by modern warfare. Where Dix sketched caustic prints and Hughes offers narrative objects and performances, Hildebrandt paints traditional oil compositions, many of them punctured by three-dimensional vignettes that increase their impact. His scenes of smoke-filled skies and bombed-out buildings have a frightfully timeless quality, as if Berlin could be Mai Lai could be Mosul. The vignettes, with echoes of Joseph Cornell’s surrealist boxes, offer a telescoped view into the heart of tragedy, the feel of looking into damaged bodies and homes. We need this work now like never before; indeed, in Chicago this very weekend the National Veterans Art Museum Triennial debuts. How else are we to know war must be stopped?
—Lori Waxman 2019-05-02 3:33 PM