Virtuosic Painter Van Hanos Resists Categorisation
Advisory Perspective

Virtuosic Painter Van Hanos
Resists Categorisation

By Laurie Barron | New York, 17 June 2021

Following the announcement of painter Van Hanos's representation in August 2020, Lisson Gallery present their first solo exhibition of the Marfa-based artist's enigmatic paintings at their New York space (30 June–13 August 2021).

The show includes 15 new pieces that exemplify how the artist consciously resists categorisation. Simultaneously fluctuating between figuration, abstraction, landscape, and portraiture, the paintings range from miniature to monumental in scale.

Predominantly using oil on linen, his technical skill allows him to move quickly from hyperreal details to alchemical abstractions, as seen in the fantastically carnivalesque Harder Party from 2020. Executive Director of Lisson Gallery, Alex Logsdail recently remarked that Van Hanos is a 'virtuosic painter who can paint perfectly in any style, like [Sigmar] Polke.'

A painting by Van Hanos features an colourful, abstract background, with a realistic candle painted in the foreground.

Van Hanos, Ross (2021). Oil on linen. 61 x 50.8 x 2.5 cm. © Van Hanos. Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

One of Van Hanos's key interests is questioning authorship by mimicking and embracing other styles. In an interview with Marta Gnyp, Hanos explained that he is fascinated by the 'idea of being invisible and the way in which the context of [the] work changes with another person' and 'also the idea that there's a unique contract which blurs authorship ... In that way, ego is stripped and any sense of self.'

Last year, ArtReview described the artist's practice as 'teasingly referential' and named him one of the most facile painters currently working.

Works on display such as Still Life with Flare and Fly (2020) are evocative of both still life and memento mori painting, including symbolic iconographies such as layered pieces of wood like broken drumsticks and curved branches, in addition to mysterious glinting objects and glass.

Typically indicative of death and melancholia, a carefully rendered singular fly acts as a trompe l'oeil feature, while also playfully recalling the widely shared 'real-life meme' images of Mike Pence speaking with a fly resting on his head last year.

An abstract painting by Van Hanos features pink and yellow hues, with bananas, a pepper, and lemon in the bottom part of the painting and circles of pink and yellow spray paint on top.

Van Hanos, Fruit for Thought (2021). Oil on linen. 30.5 x 25.4 x 2.5 cm. © Van Hanos. Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

This exhibition follows Interiors, the artist's critically acclaimed solo exhibition at L.A.'s Château Shatto in 2020 that navigated how 'interior space is the mental event which forms each painting; the site of interiority that muddles what is perceived and what the mind's eye produces.'

Other recent works have drawn inspiration from the painter's friend, author Stephen Intlekofer, whose phantasmagorical online text designed for both children and adults, 'Deepest Dreamer', echoes the peregrinating atmosphere of the paintings.

Closely guarded by his dealers, primary prices are thought to range between $5,000–$40,000 and the artist's works rarely arrive at the secondary market. However, an exorbitant early work, Another New Years Painting (2015), recently doubled its low estimate at Phillips, reaching $21,420, indicating intense demand from collectors. —[O]

Main image: Van Hanos, studio view. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Mark Waldhauser.

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