Hannah Wilson

Scene: a tightly cropped shot of a man, music fading out. The quiet draws attention to a small gesture, perhaps a look off camera, that betrays an unguarded vulnerability. These sequences, often found in auteur filmmaking, provide the inspiration for Hannah Wilson’s new suite of paintings on view in robert’s tenement space as part of “The Folder.” The works invite the viewer to identify with defeated men, their gazes averted, faces covered, minds elsewhere. The titles mix fact and fiction, with actor and character names alongside each other. Head (Theodore) (all works 2022) centers on the catlike countenance of Theodore from Her, 2013, played by Joaquin Phoenix, while Head (Philip) accentuates the troubled brow of Philip Seymour Hoffman. The figure in both The Folder and Head (Franz) could be Franz Rogowski’s Hans from Great Freedom (2021).

While the film stars remain recognizable, Wilson doesn’t appear to be making a point about celebrity. Rather, their memorable depictions of masculine intimacy and loneliness provide the artist with source material for a painterly negotiation of corporeal detail and composition. The work’s cake-icing impasto, oils applied wet-on-wet, feels as if it were trying to perform the impossible: to make something solid and bodily from the intangible images of cinema. Wilson’s thick lines and rhythmic application of paint, reminiscent of Philip Guston and Nicole Eisenman, articulate a queer, desirous aspect in moments of heightened male emotion, its various attitudes and strange beauty.

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