Critics’ Picks

Hannah Fitz, GOING BALLISTIC, 2019, steel, card, plaster, fiberglass, resin, paint, scarves, 60 1/8 x 30 7/10 x 25 1/2".


Hannah Fitz

Kerlin Gallery
Anne's Lane, South Anne Street
April 18–May 25, 2019

In earlier works, Hannah Fitz rendered domestic objects both eternal and strange. Sculptures like Candelabra and Table, both 2017, show smoke—from a burned-out candle in the former, wafting forever skyward, and from a cigarette in an ashtray in the latter, doing the same. Now, for her first solo show, titled “OK,” the human form has taken center stage, though Fitz hasn’t sacrificed any of the strangeness.

Fashioned from steel, card, fiberglass, and resin, a cluster of eight figures appear to be at play. While loosely based on the artist’s own body, these models have none of the aggrandizing bombast that afflicts some of the output of Antony Gormley, an artist who works similarly but with different materials. Painted in shades of white and gray—and graceful, despite the deliberate blockiness of their execution—Fitz’s characters, appareled in sports shorts, trainers, and tees, are featureless and hairless everymen. They are caught mid-act. The figure depicted in HERO (all works 2019) kneels, shirt half-lifted over its head. In ALL HAIL, it’s bent over, a football balanced on its back. In GOING BALLISTIC, a pair run together, stiffened scarves racing behind.

For all the joyful associations of sport, there’s an ever-nudging anxiety. The trailing scarves, ordered online, aren’t flying the flag for sports clubs. Instead, they feature semi-obscured phrases taken from Fitz’s own diary. One can make out the words “can swallow you whole” and “oh man oh man oh man.” Some hide a world of pain behind the colors of their chosen team; others turn tribal, unleashing that pain on perceived outsiders. Our kneeling hero has some synergy with the Northern Irish artist F. E. McWilliam’s acclaimed “Women of Belfast” series, 1972–74. There, bronze-cast, twisted, disarrayed clothes are the result of a bomb blast, not an expression of elation. In figurative sculpture, as in life, context is everything, and Fitz gives perfect form to the space between implication and extended possibility.