Jason Hackenwerth | Velvet Mantle

August 19 - September 30, 2023

Opening Reception: August 19, 2023 from 3 - 6 PM, 1412 Wazee Street, Denver Colorado 80202


Jason Hackenwerth, a multidisciplinary artist working in the fields of painting, sculpture, and installation, is best known internationally for creating arresting and massive sculptures from colorful, latex balloons. Noted projects include commissions by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2014) and The New York Times (2011) as well as installations at the Victoria & Albert Museum (2012) and appearances at the Venice Biennale (2005) and Art Basel, Miami (2016).  


For K Contemporary, a suspended, organic, biological form called Medusa engages viewers as they approach the main gallery. This site-specific installation comprises more than 5,000 inflated, hand-twisted balloons in traditional and neon colors ranging from pink, orange, and goldenrod to chocolate brown. Hackenwerth’s balloon creations are both concrete and amorphous, suggesting the human mind’s capacity for transcendence – a physical manifestation of floating consciousness. His schematic designs for Medusa will also be on view. 


Accompanying Hackenwerth’s balloon installation are monumental paintings as well as a salon-style wall of smaller works – the latter from his ongoing Paradise series.  In his recognizable, raw, and graphic style, his paintings point to stories of struggle and transformation, as remnants of words peek through layers of paint that have been erased and reapplied. Civic and personal self-correction become a theme in Hackenwerth’s oeuvre. His paintings serve as allegories for problems that individuals and society are working through. To underscore this point, he's created glyphs of abstracted, fluffy sheep that reveal our susceptibility to becoming mere followers or part of an unreflective flock. In this way, each work examines the oscillation between conscious awareness and compulsive thought. As his show’s title suggests, Hackenwerth asks us to throw off the mantle of prevailing social systems and values that no longer serve to create harmony in the present.  


K Contemporary owner, Doug Kacena, comments, “Through his paintings, Jason is declaring that if we only could get out of our own way, we’d see that paradise can be right here, right now. Ultimately, the Paradise paintings invite possibility.”


A special thank you to the Denver Theater District for their exhibition support!