Hannah Lupton Reinhard's first solo exhibition, Beshert: Beholden, imagines Jewish femininity within a fairy tale of art history. At first, the paintings present as girly, colorful, and sparkly – too bright and even hard to look at. But as you approach the works, the nuances draw you into their technical mastery and mysterious tones. The paintings investigate dualities of beauty and ugliness, movement and paralysis, beckoning and withdrawal, naivety and sophistication. Beshert: Beholden opens January 14 and will be on view until February 20, 2022. An opening reception will be held from 6-9pm.
At the heart of the show is an altarpiece triptych featuring an imposing landscape painting staggered by two stained-glass-framed portraits in the style of synagogue decor. The center panel, Song of the Sea, is one of several pieces with an explicitly Biblical subject matter, along with Kiss of Judas. The piece features women immersed in acts of care and celebration, pointedly refusing to engage with the viewer. Highly patterned textiles take precedence over the figures themselves, almost bleeding into their fantastical setting.
Lupton Reinhard applies oil paint like watercolor in thin transparent layers with minimal pigment. In a subtractive process, she then scrapes the paint in a cross-hatched drawing mode. This technique creates a saturated, luminescent coloration and a mechanical, slightly brutal, hard edge. Ultimately, the oil paintings are "defaced" with Swarovski crystals, bedazzling objects like tree trunks, scarves or butterflies. This craft element and nostalgia for glitter are offset by the rigor of the artist, creating moments of light and texture that dissolve the real and unreal.
Many works feature two women in postures of shielding, sheltering, and obscuring, countered by gestures of unveiling, exposing, and touching. There is chemistry between these maidens, along with foreboding, melancholy, and a burdensome knowledge. The figures are sheltered by veils and scarves or beneath the cover of trees, evoking the shrouding of Leah, the masquerade of Esther, and the basket of Moses.
The veil obscures the face in the same way that pattern, sparkle, and technical virtuosity hide the heartache of these figures. Spiriting a secret Judaism into classicizing ideas of femininity and narrative, Lupton Reinhard creates paintings that are aggressively themselves: shiny, singular, and enrapturing.