Adam Hahn plays with existence. All the individual faces that stare out from his piercing and haunting pictures are portraits of real people yet the overall face presented to the viewer never will exist.
This is the most striking exhibition I have seen to date in the North Wall gallery space. All of the drawings are multiple portraits of the faces of at least two individuals superimposed on top of each other. This is inspired by the work of the late scientist Francis Galton who used images to look for common facial features amongst criminals.
There is a back story to each drawing. It is the sort of exhibition that generates a different interpretation of the work on each visit. Many of the faces are based on Hahn’s family members (one series of sketches is entitled ‘Hahn’). The flexible arcs of the charcoal or graphite lead Hahn uses are soft yet the overall composition made up of these flowing lines is harsh, outlining uncompromising facial features. The different qualities of harshness applied to the paper brings to life layers of detail that make the sketches seem three dimensional. The use of smudging brings a quality of hazy light surrounding the work that is accentuated by the gallery’s white walls.
Frankly a pre show viewing of this fascinating exhibiton is not enough to fully absorb the drama behind the eyes of each portrait. I look forward to revisiting the North Wall gallery and experiencing the pictures in the daylight and reinterpreting the interplay of Hahn’s family portraits.
Lita Doolan (Unverified), 01/06/12
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