C’naan Hamburger: Vanitas at Charles Moffett Gallery




C’naan Hamburger, Wall Power, 2024. Egg tempera, pigment and scraped paint from the MET Breuer’s walls on panel. 13 34 x 9 inches (34.9 x 48.3 cm), Framed: 15 1/4 x 20 1/2 inches (38.7 x 52.1 cm). Image courtesy of the artist and Charles Moffett Gallery

Charles Moffett is pleased to present Vanitas, New York-based artist C’naan Hamburger’s first ever solo exhibition. Building on the artist’s Fall 2023 Hunter College MFA Thesis Exhibition, the show includes seven new and recent paintings rendered in the artist’s distinctive use of egg tempera on wood panel, alongside one sculpture of porcelain adorned with offset woodcut prints and drawings. Painted in minute brushstrokes of remarkable precision, Hamburger’s compositions leverage the ancient technique of egg tempera and the traditional genre of landscape painting to create contemporary vanitas pictures, pictures which grapple with the experience of urban decay, repair, and further decay.

C’naan Hamburger, Vanitas, Installation View, Charles Moffett, New York, 2024

The artist’s love of skateboarding and her experience as outdoor educator permeate her works. She runs her astute eye and meticulous hand through the New York City landscape — its streets and sidewalks, its rooftops and parks. For her, these sites, their paving, landscaping, and thin layers of fleeting surface improvements, symbolize our constant masking of the palimpsest of the past, and a simultaneous, insistent refusal to accept our own, inevitable disintegration. Hamburger’s paintings zero in on these ubiquitous, yet inevitably futile attempts at maintenance — the painting of yellow, caution lines on the steps descending to the subway, the resodding of a small patch of park lawn, discarded traffic law signs and piles of orange-striped ConEd barriers crowding a sidewalk. The portrayal of these quiet city scenes is never an assessment of the value of the work and labor itself, but rather an interrogation of what unspoken urges and fears that work strives to bury within us.

Hamburger’s compositions forage through the history of the landscape genre — ranging from the Dutch Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder to largely unknown American regionalist painters. Like these earlier figures, rather than approaching the genre of landscape painting as a means of exacting, faithful reproductions of the sites that inspire them, the artist intentionally plays with the malleability of landscape. Through her own manipulation, she illuminates the inherently constructed nature of these places, ultimately questioning what forces exist behind that construction itself.

In this spirit, she often scrapes material from the surfaces she portrays, grinds it, and utilizes it as pigment for her refined brushstrokes. Take, for example, her painting Wall Power, where scrapings from the walls of The Breuer Building, when blended with its egg binder, turned into a difficult to manage goo. In these works, Hamburger does not merely represent these structures and streetscapes, but presents them — their materiality, their vulnerability, their disintegration — within the paintings themselves.

C’naan Hamburger, Vanitas, 2023. Egg tempera, pigment and ground Manhattan Schist on panel. 28 x 39 inches (71.1 x 99.1 cm) Framed: 29 3/8 x 40 3/8 x 2 inches (74.6 x 102.6 x 5.1 cm). © C’naan Hamburger

C’naan Hamburger (b. 1984, Jerusalem, Israel; lives and works in New York, NY. MFA Painting Hunter College, 2023. BA, Tufts University, 2007.) Hamburger is the recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant in 2023 and 2022, and the AXA Art Prize honorable mention in 2023 and prize finalist in 2021. Her work has recently been exhibited by Kate Werble Gallery in New York, NY, and is held in the permanent collections of the Bartow-Pell Museum, Bronx, NY, and UMass Dartmouth, Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections. Hamburger has been an outdoor educator for over a dozen years. Before pursuing her artistic practice, she was a World Champion skateboarder, named best female skater of 2001 by Transworld Skateboard Magazine; and in 2000, she won the World Cup of Skateboarding and the Vans Triple Crown in Women’s Street.

C’naan Hamburger:  Vanitas will be on view March 8 to April 20, 2024 at Charles Moffett Gallery, 437 Washington Street, TriBeCa. An Opening Reception will be held on March 8th from 6-8pm.