Hanna de Haan’s work put me in mind of the American/German Expressionist Lyonel Feininger and even the drawings and preparatory work of Christo. The soaring verticals and vertiginous perspectives evoke modern city life and demonstrate how buildings can rise but also fall.
Hanna de Haan is fascinated by how cities change and develop. This constant change or flux is like the shedding of a skin and the acquiring of a new one. Some old buildings remain, the basic layout of the city remains but what dominates is the new-builds, the concrete and glass. She is more interested in the construction of the building rather that the finished one. She enjoys seeing the building process and imagining what the finished building will be like. She likens the cranes, scaffolding poles and concrete reinforcements to the lines of a sketch.
Mainly works on paper, there is also a series of small wooden/cardboard maquettes. They resemble the aftermath of an earthquake or evocations of a war zone – images of which we are currently acutely aware – even the jagged ruins of 9/11. These tiny sculptures are mostly three dimensional, free standing, but there was one I particularly liked which was a small, flat piece of plywood carved and inked as though it was a woodcut block.
Her prints are constructed in the same way a building is made, using different materials and techniques. Most of the prints are basically woodcuts, although Ms de Haan seems to have developed her own technique for mixing materials, like a builder, to achieve the end result. Many prints are quite large, technically brilliant, achieving rich blacks with fine, almost spidery lines and subtle textures.
There are figures in the pictures but they are often dominated by and subservient to the buildings. Sometimes peopled by passers-by, and frequently by hard-hatted construction workers, we see buildings rise and the landscape change. But Ms de Haan’s work will also provide valuable historical documents as she chronicles the construction of familiar buildings in Rotterdam and The Hague, like the Amare concert hall.
Hanna de Haan’s work itself sometimes involves constructions. Her 2018 seven meter wide installation Panorama Hèsjtek in the Atrium at the City Hall in The Hague showed the local cityscape in the round, echoing and updating the wonderful Museum Panorama Mesdag across town. This exhibition is highly recommended. Michael Hasted 19th February 2023
Hanna De Haan – In Aanbou continues at Galerie RuimteRemmelink in Delft until 25th March