Tom Hackney (b. 1977, UK) lives and works in London. Painting forms the basis of Hackney’s art practice, as mode, vessel and historical narrative. Often generated in response to specific historical material, Hackney’s work incorporates existing forms and structures which are restates as a means of exploring more contemporary stakes. Since 2009, Hackney has been working on an ongoing series of Chess Paintings, which follow the constituent moves from the archival records of games played by Marcel Duchamp.

Tom Hackney interview for Masters of the Arts
Art Chess by Tom Hackney inspired by Marcel Duchamp
Art Chess by Tom Hackney ‘Retinal Chess’
Art Chess by Tom Hackney at World Chess Hall of Fame
Art Chess by Tom Hackney ‘Retinal Chess’ at World Chess Hall of Fame exhibition
(Photo credit: World Chess Hall of Fame)

“Much of my practice locates itself around an intersection of art and chess – specifically, the intersection drawn together by the work and ideas of Marcel Duchamp.  As exemplified by Duchamp, both art and chess can be considered in terms of their retinal and non-retinal characteristics. Where the art in ones head can exert its influence over the art before ones eyes, a similar paradigm can be considered in chess. Here, the physical material acts as a visible marker or placeholder for the immaterial development of the game, as played out within the constraining structure of chess; a thought-space shared between opponents.

The set I have designed aims to accentuate this retinal aspect of chess, with the pieces defined by the two primary types of photoreceptor cells found in the eye – cones and rods. As the game progresses the pieces are scattered into disordered configurations and combinations, before being reset into spectral sequence and tonal rank.”

Tom Hackney

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Tom Hackney Chess Painting No. 111
Tom Hackney Chess Painting No. 111 (Duchamp vs. Schwarzmann, 1929)