By Will Heinrich
Heidi Hahn’s paintings remind me of Erik Satie’s compositions. It’s a funny comparison to make, because his music is famously minimal, and the first thing you notice about the 10 numbered oils in Ms. Hahn’s new show, “The Future Is Elsewhere (if It Breaks Your Heart),” at Jack Hanley, is their luxurious brushwork. But like Satie, Ms. Hahn achieves the richness in her work by stripping it down to a few formal elements and then prying those elements apart to reveal the sticky, inexhaustible force that holds them together.
Every piece in the show is centered on one or more extended female figures in sinuous cartoon silhouette. “The Future Is Elsewhere (if It Breaks Your Heart) No. 3,” a dark vertical tricolor, is complicated conceptually as well as chromatically by its three figures: one standing, one on a chair and one sitting on the floor. Blond and brown hair, a green sweater and roseate noses add subtle dissonance to the background of lavender, cloudy pink and gray, while Ms. Hahn’s use of figuration and some cues to depth of field gently undermine the abstract flatness of that background and of the figures themselves. (“No. 7,” in which an apartment building’s 15 windows act as streaky rectangles of pure color, almost convinced me that there’s no such thing as pure abstraction, anyway.) In “No. 9,” the artist paints her stand-in stretched out on the floor, back and arm curved like a billowing hill, painting herself, Galatea turned Pygmalion.