Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hannah Barrett: Family Jewels


Hannah Barrett

Family Jewels

November 18 - December 30, 2011

Opening Reception: Saturday November 19th 4 - 6pm

Howard Yezerski is pleased to present The Family Jewels, a series depicting the glamorous appearance and lifestyle of royal hermaphrodites, by Hannah Barrett. The divine beings garden, ride horseback, take tea, frolic in the bedroom, and cook dinner in the castle kitchen.  Like many an official portrait of the Christ Child, the genitals are exposed in order to verify their unique status. These are enviable creatures possessing everything a person could possibly want from multi-sexuality to opulent surroundings.

Although ancient in concept, the hermaphrodite is the way of the future, the solution to endless dissatisfaction with the limitations of male and female.  The past, while it is full of great art and paintings, is unfortunately saturated with inhumanity.  Even the imagination cannot free itself from history, because something is always based on something else.  The world of the hermaphrodites has digested the past and created an unexpected ending to the story.

The Family Jewels span a three- year period and consist of collages and drawings, which are collected in a Zine, and paintings.  In the collages the sources for the images are visible including the parts of HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Adolf Hitler that were cannibalized and hybridized to create the figures. When designing the hermaphrodite prototype, what better people to start with than the very two individuals, who, more than anyone else in the 20th century, symbolize master race? The drawings fuse the pieces together and obscure their origins, while the paintings seduce with color and gold. Although the pictures are graphic, and specific, they are frankly imaginary and open to interpretation.

This is Barrett’s third show at the gallery and the most explicit in the theme of androgyny that runs through all of Barrett’s figuration. Concurrent with The Family Jewels, is another completely different body of work by Barrett, Tea with the Gibsons, on view at Childs Gallery from November 9th – December 13th. Tea with the Gibsons is a series of invented portraits based on the Boston family, the Gibsons, a microcosm on some of the largest and most broadly painted of Barrett’s canvases, whereas The Family Jewels cram a macrocosm into small panels reminiscent of Bosch and Cranach. Together the two exhibitions demonstrate an unmistakable consistency in Barrett’s work, and its surprising way of re-inventing style and approach to dual obsessions with gender and time.

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