Tom Hackney - bespoke games
Tom Hackney. Art Chess by Tom Hackney “Retinal Chess”

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.

a black and white chess board with grey pieces on one side and brightly colored pieces on the other

Art Chess by Tom Hackney “Retinal Chess”
Tom Hackney interview for Masters of the Arts
Tom Hacnkey's chess set, one side painted in a matte spectrum of grey, the other in a matte spectrum of bright colours on a black and white board
Art Chess by Tom Hackney “Retinal Chess”

“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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chess paintings by artist Tom Hackney
Art Chess by Tom Hackney “Retinal Chess”. “Number 100 Boas vs. Duchamp, 1935”. “Number 111 Duchamp vs. Schwarzmann, 1929” by Tom Hackney