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Opening Tonight, Artists Investigate the Skin at Garis & Hahn

Cynthia Lin, "Crop1aAsideEyeEA" (2009) (All images courtesy Garis & Hahn)
Cynthia Lin, “Crop1aAsideEyeEA” (2009) (All images courtesy Garis & Hahn)

Garis & Hahn is a new gallery on the Lower East Side whose tagline — “Est. Now” — signals their commitment to provocative contemporary programming. Tonight, the gallery opens Borderline: Depictions of Skin, a show composed of a trio of artists, Gwen Hardie, Cynthia Lin, and Diana Schmertz, investigating the skin as a signifier of sensory boundaries.

Skin is a multifarious concept — it brings to mind the outermost surface of things, or, perhaps, the condition of vulnerability that comes when our skin is exposed. The artists in Borderline take on skin as way to connect to the human body; by depicting and appropriating our corporeal forms, the three women presented here reach toward deeper issues, approaching themes of connection, endurance, and intimacy.

Gwen Hardie, "Body 09.13.09" (2009)
Gwen Hardie, “Body 09.13.09” (2009)

Cynthia Lin’s dramatic graphite and charcoal drawings get up close and personal with the body, zooming in on singular features and diving into the texture of skin itself, with all of its valleys and crags. In “Crop1aAsideEyeEA” (seen above), she takes viewers on trip through the details of an eyebrow, eyelash, and lid. Their size turns familiar details into epic landscapes.

Gwen Hardie uses soft membranes of oil paint to create diaphanous, abstract paintings that hint at depths of flesh. For Hardie, skin serves as the primary witness to inner life, dividing the self from the outside world. Veins creep through her “Body 09.12.09,” a tondo of yellow, red, and pale blue tones that forms a close-up of an elbow or palm crease lit by natural light.

Diana Schmertz, "The Cause of Itself" (2010)
Diana Schmertz, “The Cause of Itself” (2010)

In her surreal paintings, Diana Schmertz uses bodily forms as a way to examine how sensory perception informs how we think and feel as human beings — the skin is our ultimate arbiter of action. In “The Cause of Itself,” a tower of hands twist together to form a single, self-reflexive unit.

See how these various strategies intersect when Borderline: Depictions of Skin opens tonight from 6 to 8 pm at Garis & Hahn (283 Bowery). The exhibition runs through April 27, and a panel discussion with the artists will be hosted at the gallery at 7 pm on April 10.