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HANNA VON GOELER REVERSE / ALCHEMY


HANNA VON GOELER Reverse / Alchemy


Of Labor and Laundry by Hall W. Rockefeller In hanging a white canvas on a white wall, the late Robert Ryman inspired outrage in skeptics already dismayed by the path on which contemporary art was traveling. Could this extreme form of minimalism even be called art? What would these skeptics say, then, to Hanna von Goeler’s Reverse / Alchemy at High Noon Gallery, in which the artist has completely disengaged the white painting from its support and simply hung it from a clothesline? Some might be tempted to call it craft, a not uncommon label assigned to fine art when it is made by a woman. In naming it such, what was a radical move is demoted in the art historical hierarchy to a specific act, rather than a transcendent one. Von Goeler, however, is finely attuned to association and has harnessed that reaction by folding it into the work’s overall meaning. (It is for this same reason that she has chosen to include the motif of the butterfly, an image which, when rendered by the hand of a woman, is gendered and “girly,” but when Damien Hirst famously used them, profound.) Von Goeler is certainly engaged in the conversation around women’s work, as is immediately evidenced by the installation of Reverse / Alchemy, which is hung to recall the clotheslines that criss-crossed the alleys of the Lower East Side’s tenement buildings at the turn of the century. The tools of that labor are glimpsed on the gallery floor, where a bucket of suds sits alongside a washboard, which leans against the back wall. This washboard was the impetus for the work, on which von Goeler fashioned the original sheets of pliable paint now hanging between the gallery’s walls. Drawn to the board’s surface texture, she thinly spread her material, waiting until it dried to peel it off. (Later, however, she moved on to palette paper, which has a waxed surface for easier removal.) The results––a partial cast of the original object––were intriguingly sculptural. Though made of paint, it became clear that these painting-sculpture hybrids needed a non-traditional means of display. Traditional painting has embedded in it an orientation––what is on the canvas is meant to be seen, while the support remains hidden from sight. In removing the backing, von Goeler has plunged


the well-trained art viewer into freefall. When asked whether she favored one side of her hanging rags over the other, the artist emphatically answered no, as she understands hierarchies and the ways in which they simply can be used as a tool to demean one set of knowledge or expression in favor of another. She is aware that the richness of these works is lost if not taken as a whole, and their installation acknowledges such. The overlapping clotheslines, though they ostensibly present one side or another of these hangings, obliterate that binary when the viewer stands among them. At any one moment, both verso and recto can be seen, though which is which might be more difficult to ascertain than one might initially suppose. At the center of this conundrum is the process of reverse painting, a centuries old technique in which paint is applied to glass to be viewed glass side out. Due to the nature of the object’s display, the artist must begin by painting the foreground of her image. This is in direct opposition to painting on canvas, in which the image is built from the bottom up. Underdrawings are covered by broad strokes of background, which yield to finer and finer detail, until the finishing touches are added--a shadow here and a line there to give fullness to the picture. Working in reverse, however, necessitates the artist’s first gestures be the finest and the final additions the most broad. By upending the process of painting, von Goeler also confuses the idea of surface and substrate. Without a clear answer, the viewer is forced to accept both sides as dominant. Inherent in this process is obfuscation. What is most difficult about this technique is the way in which any new additions to the painting necessarily obscure the previous ones. Von Goeler, who worked on paper instead of glass, did not have the benefit of seeing what she already laid down. In order to achieve the desired result, the artist had to lean heavily on memory and intuition. Invisibility and obscuring, of course, are themes which the life and labor of the immigrant women on the Lower East Side would have been intimately familiar. Pay attention, however, and you’ll find an homage to this labor throughout the space. A painting towards the back of the gallery, for example, bears the markings of a previous life as the artist’s palette. Among the broad strokes made by a palette knife is a small vortex of color, in which the artist mixed her pigments with a finer touch. It serves as a wink to the viewer, a reward for those paying attention, but also a nod to the overall ethos of the installation: here, too, labor is visible––you just must simply want to see it.


It’s hard to classify what Reverse / Alchemy is (an installation? A series of paintings? A single sculpture?), but that might be part of the point. “It’s freeing to think you can be many different things simultaneously,” the artist says. Freeing, yes, but also realistic. To define yourself by a single label (“artist,” for example) is to ignore the complications of living in the world, a luxury out of reach for many women who wear the hats of mother, caregiver, cook, and, of course, laundress. Reverse / Alchemy is a moving monument to what little was visible of these women’s lives, a humble proclamation of an existence lived indoors. As the light fades and the fireflies begin to softly glow, we can almost hear children crying and voices speaking in accents far from home. In the dark of the gallery emerges a history almost––but not quite––forgotten.

Hall W. Rockefeller is an art critic and historian, specializing in the work of female artists. She is the founder of less than half (lessthanhalf.org), a website covering women artists in New York City, which includes exhibition reviews and profiles of practicing artists. She received her Master’s degree in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, where she wrote her thesis on modernist weaver Anni Albers.


Reverse / Alchemy (individual works), 2019, acrylic and fluorescent pigment, approx. 20” x 15” ea


Hanna von Goeler b. Marburg an der Lahn, DE

EDUCATION University of California, Davis, CA - MFA Jan van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht, the Netherlands - Certificate (2 year graduate level program)  Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI - BFA SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS ​ 2019 Reverse / Alchemy, High Noon Gallery, September 4 - October 6, New York, NY 2016 Migration Series, Phoebus Gallery, Contemporary Art on Paper, Amsterdam Drawing 2016, September 2016, Amsterdam, The Netherlands ​ 2013 A Good Trap, A Fine Yarn - Installation and Paintings by Hanna von Goeler, Solo exhibition, curated by Darcy Rhyno, The Osprey Fine and Performing Arts Center, July - August, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, Canada    ​ 2012 The Currency of an Altered State, solo exhibition, curated by Kate Somers, Princeton University, The Bernstein Gallery, October 26 - December 6, Princeton, NJ ​ 2010 The Currency of an Altered State, River Gallery; Mary Birmingham, curator, Hunterdon Museum, February 7 March 21, Clinton, NJ ​ 2009 The Shadows Cast by Ordinary Objects, solo exhibition for The Project Room, Sloan Fine Art, New York, NY ​


SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2019 Seeing the Unseen, curated by Greg Leshé, Morris Arts and the Geraldine Dodge Foundation, March 14 August 21, Morristown, NJ Mediums of Exchange, curated by Lisa Panzera, Shirley Fiterman Center, BMCC/CUNY, January 31 - March 30 Mediums of Exchange, curated by Bartholomew F. Bland, Lehman College Art Gallery, Lehman College, NY, February 9 - May 4 2017 The Painted Desert, High Noon Gallery, New York, NY Summer Exhibition, curated by Mirjam da Winter, Phoebus Gallery, Rotterdam, the Netherlands Postcards from the Edge, Metro Pictures, January 2017, New York, NY 2016 The Persistence of Urgency, curated by Jeff Quinn and Lowell Boyers, Mayson Gallery, June 2016, New York, NY Artist Select, Cumberland Gallery, April - May 2016, Nashville, TN Postcards from the Edge, Sikkema Jenkins, January 2016, New York, NY            2015 Drawing Amsterdam 2015, Phoebus Gallery, September 17-20, Rotterdam, the Netherlands Ladenkast Projekt, curated by Regula Muller, Phoebus Gallery, September 12 - October 12, Rotterdam, the Netherlands   Postcards from the Edge, February 2015, Luhring Augustine Gallery 2014 Madness, curated by Lori Field, The Lodge Gallery, October - November, New York, NY 2013         Peekskill Project V: The New Hudson River School, curated by Anna Adler, Cristina Arnold, Paul Clay, Kerry Cox, Evonne Davis, Marcy B. Freedman, Matthew Leonard, Cheryl McGinnis, Wilfredo Morel, Lise Prown, Alix Sloan, Livia Strauss, Lilly Wei and Emma Wilcox, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (HVCCA),  September 29 2012 - July 28, 2013, Peekskill, NY 2012 Art thou Gone, Beloved Ghost: Installation and Intervention in Public Space, curated by Steven Matijcio, curator at SECCA and Cincinnati Art Museum, Narracje Fesitival 2012, November 2012, Gdansk, Poland             Natural/Mechanical, curated by Elizabeth Murray and Jennifer Graham Macht, Paterson Art Walk, Historic Warehouses, May 2012, Paterson, NJ Visual AIDS Postcards from the Edge, Cheim & Reid, January 2012, New York, NY


2011 Licht!, curated by Moritz Ebinger, Nieuwe Vide, October 28 - December 3, Haarlem, the Netherlands Shadow Dance: Vito Acconci, Charles Atlas, Dirck van Baburen, Aram Bartholl, Christian Boltanski, etc., curated by Judith van Meeuwen, Kunsthal KAdE, September 17, 2010 – January 7, 2011, Amersfoort, the Netherlands 2010          Scherenschnitte-Kontur Pur/Sillhouettes-Pure Contour, curated by Eva Afuhs, November 2009 - April, 2010, Museum Bellerive, Zurich, Switzerland    Smoke+Mirrors/Shadows+Fog, curated by Tracy L. Adler & Mara Doberman, Hunter College/Times Square Gallery, February 18 - April 17, New York, NY  WW residency group exhibition, curated by Doris Cacoilo and Vandana Jain, Lex Leonard Gallery, Jersey City, NJ       Windows @ Walsh, curated by Jeanne Brasile, Seton Hall University Walsh Gallery, South Orange, NJ                    2009 +2 Group Exhibition, Sloan Fine Art, New York, NY Chilled, public art project sponsored by arts<World Financial Center, curated by Linda Pollack, The Habeas Lounge Economic Forum, New York, NY Money, Money, Money, curated by Doris Cacoilo and Vandana Jain, WW Residency, ABC No Rio, New York, NY Internationale Pass Objekte, Galerie Kurt im Hirsch, Berlin, Germany Por Favor, Sus Documentos, Galería Aiolote Art Contemporáneo, Guadalajara, Mexico Moolah, curated by Lawrence Cappiello, Arts Guild New Jersey, Rahway, NJ Vase Doklady Prosit, Galéria Z, Bratislava, Slovakia ​ 2008 Your Documents Please, ZAIM & Galerie Paris, Yokohama, The Museum of Arts and Crafts-ITAMI, Itami, Japan Who’s the Fairest of them All? Hang Art Gallery, San Francisco, CA A Papirjait Legyen Szives, 2B Gallery, Budapest, Hungary ​ 2006 My Money, My Currency, selected by Robert Storr, 2006 RISD Biennial, Exit Art, New York, NY Cycle Wall Paintings (32 x 10 ft.), collaboration with Paula Schmetterliqng, Watchung School Commission


AWARDS, GRANTS, RESIDENCIES ​ Massachusetts Arts Lottery Grant Regents Fellowship, University of California Davis,  Humanities Graduate Research Award, University of California, Davis Nelson Art Friends Grant Jan van Eyck Akademie Material Stipend and Project Grant Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation National Endowment for the Arts NJ State Council for the Arts The Bloomingdales Fund of the Macy’s Foundation BIBLIOGRAPHY ​ Malek Abbou, “Fondements Metaphysique du Dollar,” Fage Editions, 2016 Matt Bua and Maximillian Goldfarb, “Architectural Inventions: Visionary Drawing of Buildings,” 2016 Tracy L. Adler and Mara Hoberman, “Smoke + Mirrors/ Shadow + Fog,” Hunter College Judith van Meeuwen, “ShadowDance”, KA Series, Kunsthal KAdE Scherenschnitte - Kontur Pur, Museum Bellerive, “Zurich und Der Schweizerische Verein”, Freunde des Scherenschnitts Wall Street Journal, WSJ Money Magazine Spring insert, “Made of Money: Painted Dollars,” (full page feature,   March 29-30, 2014 http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304250204579433443982285748 New York Times, NY/Region Events Page “Hanna von Goeler: The Currency of an Altered State” at the Hunterdon Museum of Art http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/nyregion/21listingsnj.html?_r=0 NewsWorks WHYY TV, Ilene Dube, The Artful Blogger, “Money as art on display at Princeton University,” November 29, 2012 Stuttgarter Zeitung, http://blog.stuttgarter-zeitung.de/finanzkrise/2009/02/05/finanzkrise-14-so-siehts-aus/ MSN.com, “Made of Money: Turning Cash into Art,” http://photos.ie.msn.com/slideshow/photo/made-of-moneyturning-cash-into-art/2u2fjy5t AnOther Magazine, “The American Dollar Bill Project: Celebrating 25 glorious editions with the best bits from AnOther Magazine archives”, September 19, 2013 http://current826.rssing.com/browser.php?indx=4122734&item=729 Trojmiasto.tv (video, Polish national television), http://trojmiasto.tv/Tlumy-uczestnikow-festiwalu-Narrac-je2012-4252.html Hunterdon County Democrat and nj.com, “One artist’s relationship with money explored at the Hunterdon Museum of Art,” February 2, 2010 Artdaily.org, “Exhibition on Use of Shadow opens at Kunsthal KAdE” Metropolis M, “Het effect van Schauduw; ShadowDance in Amersfoort,” http://metropolism.com/reviews/heteffect-van-schaduw/


LUCY, “Shadowdance,” http://www.lucyindelucht.nl/geweest/in-het-archief-van-2011/shadowdance ArtCat Zine, “Hanna von Goeler at Sloan Fine Art,” Patti Jordan, Features/Reviews, http://zine.artcat.com/2009/ 01/hanna-von-goeler-at-sloan-fine.php Beautiful Decay, “Hanna von Goeler,” http://beautifuldecay.com/2009/02/03/hanna-von-goeler/ The Bowery Boogie, Art, “Explore the artistic side of ‘Madness’ at the Lodge Gallery Tomorrow,” October 28, 2014 The Creep Machine, “Madness at the Lodge Gallery”, Samantha Levin, http://www.creepmachine.com/events/ madness-at-the-lodge-gallery.html Timeout, https://world.timeout.com/events/madness-curated-by-lori-field The Shelburne County Coast Guard, “Steven Page highlights Osprey Celebration on July 13” Pakistan Art Review, “Currency Dealers,” Shamim Akhter, http://www.pakistanartreview.net/28th_Issue/28th_ Page_3.html Phantasmaphile, “Hanna von Goeler,” http://www.phantasmaphile.com/2009/01/hanna-von-goeler-show.html Hunterdon Review, “Art museum opens exhibit on ‘currency,’” Feb. 7 InPrint Magazine, Feature, Issue 7, http://issuu.com/inprintmagazine/docs/issue7.1 NY ARTBEAT, Hanna von Goeler “The Shadows Cast by Ordinary Objects”, http://www.nyartbeat.com/event/ 2008/037C Brooklyn Art Project, “Art Exhibition, Emerging Artists, In Between,” February 11, 2010, http://blog.brooklynart project.com/category/sculpture/ “Bericht uit Amersfoort: Shadowdance in Kunsthal,” KAdE, http://kunstbeeld.nl/nl/nieuws/14347/bericht-uitamersfoort-shadowdance-in-kunsthal-kade.html


Hanna von Goeler | Reverse / Alchemy September 4 - October 6, 2019 Edition of 100

Publisher: © 2019 Jared Linge HIGH NOON GALLERY

Art © 2019 Hanna von Goeler Text © 2019 Hall Rockefeller Photography: Hanna von Goeler, Sam Vladimirsky

All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reprinted or reproduced in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, without prior permission from the publisher.

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cover (installation detail): Reverse / Alchemy, 2019, acrylic and fluorescent pigment, dimensions variable

Profile for High Noon Gallery

Hanna von Goeler - "Reverse / Alchemy" exhibition catalog  

Exhibition catalog for Hanna von Goeler - "Reverse / Alchemy," the artist's solo debut with the gallery, including an essay by art critic an...

Hanna von Goeler - "Reverse / Alchemy" exhibition catalog  

Exhibition catalog for Hanna von Goeler - "Reverse / Alchemy," the artist's solo debut with the gallery, including an essay by art critic an...

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