LOS ANGELES, CA.- Kohn Gallery opened Soft Joy, Heidi Hahn’s second solo presentation with the gallery. Known for her lushly evocative compositions of melancholic figures, Hahn wholly prioritizes the female experience. This new body of work, comprised of large-scale paintings, examines bodily autonomy through the creation of personal space in the context of paint, ownership over imagery and materiality, and the representation of privacy in the midst of vulnerability.
Hahn writes, “I paint my own experiences, which happens to come from a female perspective. I think these paintings try to contend with the way women have usually been represented, which is through an erotic lens even while masqurading as liberation and freedom. I don’t feel free from the violence imposed on my body. I don’t feel free displaying the erotic of my body for the pleasure of others.”
Hahn’s work suspends objectification, either self-imposed or assumed by the viewer, and embarks on a meditation of form that protects the agency of her own body. The compositions are constructions of space and shape that corporealize persona with emotive grandeur guided by the temperament of paint’s qualities. Her gestures explore the relationship between materiality and surface which meet to assert power– one that is usually reserved for the viewer. These women are not offering an invitation to be viewed, but rather exist in their own agency and as conduits of her question, “How does the drawing of a body delegate itself to being a seen and known form?”
Reminiscent of the sinuous lines of Edvard Munch, the soak-stained expressionism of Helen Frankenthaler, and the raw symbolism of late-Guston, Hahn establishes a truly distinctive voice of today–aware of what came before, but also untethered to it.
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