Hannah Taurins

Cover Girl

Theta
184 Franklin Street, Lower Level
New York
Tribeca
Feb 23rd — Mar 26th

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Anonymity and nondisclosure are precious these days; situations wherein we don’t share at least a part of our identity seem more and more scarce. At Theta Gallery, in her first solo show, Hannah Taurins’s entrancing paintings of female contortionists, models and spies don’t divulge anything about who they are within their picture planes. Instead, the artist highlights her subjects with a well-defined and intuitive use of materials. Half-painting, half-drawing, each portrait consists of thick accumulations of brightly colored pencil, gouache and acrylic paint blended and mounted on wood panel. The figures are comfortable in their otherworldly space. We may look at them—a single body or face occupies each work—but we never receive a conclusive answer as to who these figures are.

Yet many of the chromatic figures imagined by the artist were inspired by or reference images of various sources, such as photographs of Lee Miller to models found on DeviantArt. A striking series of frontal portraits have compositions reminiscent of death masks. In actuality, the dynamic swooping hair that covers each figure’s face and obscures everything besides their nostrils and mouth was influenced by Maison Margiela’s spring 2012 ready-to-wear collection. Highlights are accentuated by thick, multicolored pencil lines, with the barest facial features sketched similarly to fashion illustrations. Margiela’s models become the perfect inspiration for the sense of anonymity in Taurins’s work—all are united but unique, and each preserves the identity its sitter without exposing them.

Comparably, Spy (2021) presents a figure whose mouth and nose are instead obscured by a dark shape. Whitish purple colored-pencil lines layered on top resemble a bristled fur scarf or coat. This gorgeous field contrasts against a pair of piercing orange eyes set within a richly textured purple-and-green face. The stark formal allure of the artist’s work draws us in both to observe and to be observed. Each work throughout the show is a reminder that what we see as beauty is a complex emotional and formal engagement with figures who reveal just enough to produce irresistible encounters. —Bryan Martin

Hannah Taurins, Shy, 2022. Colored pencil and gouache on paper mounted to board, 18 x 24 x 1.5 inches.

  • Through
    Jun 6th

    A traveling exhibition of 69 oil paintings, watercolors and works on paper aims to chart Milton Avery’s trajectory and contextualize his work for a new generation.

  • Through
    May 29th

    Inspired by fractals, Renee Cox’s deity-like collages of Black figures constitute an Afrofuturist creation myth.

  • Through
    Jun 6th

    An economical survey of Jonas Mekas, “The Camera Was Always Running” serves as a touching introduction to the Lithuanian filmmaker and champion of avant-garde cinema.

  • Through
    May 28th

    The work in Valentina Vaccarella’s “Bless this Life” rests on a simple irony: monogrammed, embroidered French bridal linens pulled taut across stretcher bars and besmirched by rough images of modern madams.

  • Through
    Jun 6th

    Daniel Lie’s “Unnamed Entities” at the New Museum challenges the antiseptic aim of curation and conservation by imagining a different kind of organic art that needs to be nurtured rather than preserved.

  • Ongoing

    Dia’s recent acquisition of works by Charles Gaines forms the basis of this survey, which includes the artist’s first forays into mathematics-based grid drawings and other early experiments in medium and form.

  • Ongoing

    Day’s End, an elegiac memorial to and stubborn ghost of eras bygone, will also serve as silent witness to the inevitable changes to come.

  • Through
    Jan 2nd 2023

    The sonic encounters provoked by Camille Norment’s elaborate acoustic artworks serve as agents for social consciousness.

  • Through
    May 28th

    The words masterful and mastery assert themselves the instant one encounters the works in “My Body,” both for Nancy Grossman’s command of a wide range of skills and her active state of dominance, identity and selfhood.