‘New Paintings By’ at Jack Hanley Gallery

Paintings by Hahn, Guertin, Hahn and Guertin. (Courtesy Jack Hanley Gallery)

Paintings by Hahn, Guertin, Hahn and Guertin. (Courtesy Jack Hanley Gallery)

Those weary of shows of austere, faux-naïve, inanely insider-y abstract painting will do well to visit this tight grouping of work by five promising, young painters whose work is joyfully brash, lively and sophisticated. It’s a counter survey of sorts, fixed on pleasure. Tisch Abelow sets the tone with small, focused, bright paintings of silhouetted saxophones and what appear, improbably, to be teeth or maybe painting palettes. Heidi Hahn takes a dirtier tact in arrangements of even smaller paintings that bear quick cartoon flowers, smiley faces and houses on their muddy backgrounds: Call it a 60-40 split between cheerful and menacing. Matthew Fischer offers perhaps the funkiest work, scraping out three tough numbers with hints of Keltie Ferris’s bubbling language and, in Fiction Painting (2013)—no joke—Richard Diebenkorn’s wooly landscapes, chopped and screwed. Ariel Dill’s two large paintings look especially good, picking up Kimber Smith’s ebullient, brushy, wide-mark style and carrying it into uncharted, unabashedly frenetic territory. Heather Guertin is a great, mysterious outlier here, with two quiet, slyly humorous, barely-there portraits, nearly invisible bodies that she has whisked onto hazy fields of color: raspberry and sea blue, burgundy and mud brown. (Disclosure: I liked one of Ms. Guertin’s paintings so much a year ago that I purchased it.) These people, and these paintings, look like they’re slipping into an alternate universe, digital, virtual or just fictional. They’re weird and beautiful. There are strong indications of grander things to come from these five, who are able to range about comfortably and playfully within contemporary painting, sidestepping the end-game conceptualism that seems to weigh so heavily on some of their peers. (Through Nov. 10)