WATCH: Video documentation of It feels so good to be alive.
Hannah Ireland’s new solo exhibition It feels so good to be alive showcases 11 large paintings on canvas.
Hannah’s gestural and expressionist portraits hint at personhood and individual character. The spacing of features such as eyes, lips, and nose are roughly around where they should be. Or just enough for them to be read as faces. Figures don devilish smirks, exaggerated black eyelashes, or smushed-to-the-photocopier type noses. In this way, Hannah is simultaneously evasive and generous with the information she decides to dole out. It’s evasive as you’re not ever really afforded certainty at what you’re looking at, but it’s generous in that certainty is the point. The open-endedness of it all allows the viewer their own interpretation.
Part of the murkiness of Hannah’s painterly information lies in the process itself. A key component of her practice is a method of painting on glass, sometimes on found or abandoned windows. This format calls for a painting in reverse. Whereas building pigment up on canvas or some other opaque surface means the foreground is often painted last, painting on glass means the initial brush strokes appear first and the background is built up in layers behind it. With these new works of Hannah’s on canvas, she first uses her familiar glass painting technique to build up paint and composition which in turn is pressed or printed onto another surface. From there, she works and reworks the image. This multi-step process allows the potential for abstraction, ambiguity, and spontaneity with the resulting portraits embodying a vagueness that encourages speculative analysis.