As contemporary art theory inexorably recontextualizes the formerly Euro-centric art historical canon, the groundbreaking achievements made in Europe, particularly France and Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, remain influential-a powerful legacy for any painter to explore. Carmel-based painter Kirstine Reiner Hansen has done just that, in small and medium-scaled works in oil on linen and paper that mesh classical and modernist painting techniques with the more contemporary tendency to appropriate and mash-up styles. Born in Denmark, Hansen has made her home in the US for 25 years. Earlier works reveal her masterful realist painting technique, displayed in a series of quiet, Morandi-like still lifes of inanimate objects, such as stones. “Reconfigurator,” recently on view at Jack Fischer’s Minnesota St. gallery, explores the more highly-charged subject matter of the figure, and conventional constructs of beauty.
Macho Chinos (all works 2016), a medium-scaled work, abstracts a male figure in shades of gray, with slight hints of muted color. The figure sits in a ground loosely suggesting landscape-an eggshell blue sky, patches of pale green, warm grays and ocher, suggesting foliage or rocks. Drapery is lovingly modeled, hugging the contours of crotch and knee. Facial features are abstracted behind a mask-like, faceted oval, evoking Cubism. Starstruck has an oddly reverent feel, filtered through a Pop lens-as if a dapper Clark Kent can’t quite decide whether to don attire of Superman or Jesus; satiny blue drapery hangs across the male figure’s lower body, a hand clasps folds of fabric at a throat lit with an otherworldly, rosy glow. Friend or Foe presents a group of diners around a table, in which dishes contain blurry smears suggesting food and drink. The scene dissolves into gestural lines and ribbons of paint, in cream and hues of blue and violet. This work conveys a Futurist quality, particularly the sense of motion, a kind of dining car or airport feel of travel either current or impending. Other works reference fashion models. Sharpest Concealer suggests the disturbing distortions of Surrealism, with its subtext of misogyny. Here, a nose and eye float atop a face that has been ripped apart and revealed as hollow. Hansen, with a deft hand and a remarkable eye, offers flickering glimpses of beautiful faces and figures, as well as a crash-course in art history; we emerge from the encounter possibly shaken, and perhaps as well a bit stirred.