A series of new works by Dutch artist Hannah van Bart currently on view at Marianne Boesky gallery beautifully explore the infinite possibilities of the line in female portraiture. In Van Bart’s muted paintings, the line is simultaneously meandering and controlled, the blurring of the edges suggest a fragility and transparency that exposes her subjects’ vulnerability and blending into the background – a role that has been traditionally ascribed to women. Van Bart takes the title of the exhibition, “The Smudge Waves Back”, from a scene in the breathtaking historical novel “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” by David Mitchell. The figures that emerge from her muted backgrounds are melancholic and mysterious Egon-Schiele-like women that seem beset by the complexity of history and possess a visceral perception of consciousness. As Mitchell fittingly writes in another passage of the same book: “An ink brush is a skeleton key for a prisoner’s mind.” Through February 4.