Alison Hall’s Hypnotic Paintings Invite Slow Looking

Alison Hall, “A Ballad (for this pain in my heart), (2022), oil, graphite, and plaster on panel; artist frame, Virginia maple and plaster, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches (all photos by Lacey Leonard, courtesy the artist and SOCO Gallery)

The artists who many critics cite when writing about Alison Hall’s paintings are Agnes Martin, Sol LeWitt, and Ad Reinhardt. Hall is one of the few contemporary abstract painters that I know of whose highly formal paintings do not diminish in the company of such rigorous ascetics. This is because her slow, mesmerizing, monochromatic works provoke a state of exalted seeing that is unlike anyone else’s, including the aforementioned artists. Working within her established limits, which she set early in her career, Hall keeps finding ways to pull willing viewers closer, to encourage them to get lost in looking as well as reflect upon this experience. This is one of the reasons that I have continued to follow her work.

Her current exhibition, Alison Hall: Cold-Eyed and Mean, in a new project space in Chinatown opened by SOCO Gallery (May 20–June 30), features 14 paintings divided into two groups: a suite of 11 intimately scaled ultramarine paintings collectively titled A Ballad, and four black paintings in three different sizes.

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