Ivy Haldeman’s strange and surreal point of view announces itself from the very first and most intimate piece of her solo show, “Twice,” at Downs & Ross: Hand, Sitting, Index Crossed Over Middle (2021), in which the knuckle-less, nailless fingers of a neon orange hand easily hold the impossible position described in the work’s title. What can only be termed “power suit paintings” continue the theme throughout this show: bodiless suits dance or cozy up, somehow throwing a knowing look at the viewer or else snapping to a beat, despite lack of face or hands or music.
Wrought with an animator’s impeccable linework and a combination of soothing pastels and desaturated neons, a number of these paintings depict women and hands, often producing enigmatic gestures. The women have faces like those on the sides of beauty parlors—expressionless, with squinty yet sultry eyes and giant, trident-like eyelashes, little noses, and full lips—except where their heads inexplicably bunch up at the top and burst into Kleenex-shaped sprouts. They are set against soft and ambiguous pale yellow backdrops full of swoops and curves; what could be a pillowy hip or a doughy shoulder in most paintings becomes, in Full Figure, Head Leans on Bun Edge, Leg Akimbo, Bottom Enfolded (2021), a full-fledged hot dog bun for a hot dog woman. An easy-to-miss hole in the gallery’s wall gives view to a sculptural take on the subject: a velveteen hotdog-woman hybrid, buns and sausage both made flesh.
Ivy Haldeman, Two Suits, Cuffs Crossed, Leaning on Elbows, Sitting with Arm Back (Smalt, Blue Horizontal), 2021. Acrylic on canvas, 67 × 60 inches.