"Hannah Cole: Mantle"
Steven Zevitas Gallery
450 Harrison Avenue #47
Through January 16
STEVEN ZEVITAS GALLERY IS A PERFECT FIT FOR BROOKLYN BASED ARTIST HANNAH COLE AS SHE STRAYS FURTHER FROM FIGURATVE WORK.
Zevitas stables an eclectic mix of artists in his Boston South End gallery.
His presentations are ambitious and varied; Chuck Webster’s colors wither
and explode, Tara Tucker’s animal farm is memorialized in thousands of
short grey strokes. But while they’re staggered on the scale of abstraction, the artists share a rejection of standard representational art.
“Mantle” is a tightly edited collection of watercolor and oil on paper works in which Cole examines everyday objects easily overlooked in an urban setting. The collection represents a major aboutface for an artist who spent a large part of her career embracing wide open
spaces and dabbling in photorealism
as witnessed from a moving car. After
five years of vehicular exploration, Cole
sold her car and found herself split
between a Brooklyn apartment and a
fellowship at the Ucross Foundation in
The common denominator in these wildly disparate landscapes is Cole’s own studio. And so, the artist allows for a sort of salvation for workplace
debris, a “still life” in which ripe fruit and sunflowers are replaced
by masking tape, pins and post-it
notes. Cole captures these peripheral
fragments in an increasingly stylized
way without losing the technical
detailing that distinguishes her
In “History Painting #2 (For B. N.),”
Cole paints a vaguely rusty wall
crowded by tape residue and paper
shreds. On the upper left hand corner,
a reminder to contact UPS is attached
to the wall with peeling masking tape.
The painting demonstrates incredible
trompe l’oeil technique; Cole’s
careful shadowing forces ripples in
the tape’s thin skin as it clings to the
wall with determination. From across
the gallery the piece appears to be a
mixed media presentation; on closer
examination the illusion fails. But
the painted studio collage provides
Cole an easy entry point into more
It’s as if “we’re watching her fighting
against realist impulses,” said Zevitas.
And while that’s true, it also seems
that some of her realist impulses
are most at home in this show.
In “Hieroglyph,” she meticulously
details gravel shards to form a
pavement backdrop against neon
orange graffiti. The graffiti symbol
is painstakingly applied to resemble
spray-paint. The concentration of
color, the thickness of paint and the
casual sweeping stroke allow Cole to
step outside of her studio and fall
into the grittiness of Brooklyn.
It’s almost as if Cole is fighting an
impulse to be, simply, and only, a
beautiful painter. In her watercolor
work, Cole shows three paintings,
which are blank except for balls of tape
in each of the four corners. These are
playful images — the viewer is looking
at the painting from its backside —
but the works are also nimble in skill
and elegant in simplicity. These are
paired with three watercolors whose
complete composition consists of two