The art world is abuzz over the recent discovery of what one veteran critic “in the know” calls “a vibrant re-expression of a post-modern minimalist rejuvenation of the expressive neo-regression of late 18th century impressionistic overthrow of form.” And he is not alone in his praise.
I can say without any qualification that, in my entire career, I have seen nothing as viscerally exciting as this newly discovered master.
And who is the cause of the waves of excitement surging through the art world?
As if preordained by the spirit of the late Max Fedam, a cache of unviewed masterpieces was discovered last Saturday hidden behind a wastebasket at the Trundle Progressive Loan and Repossession Service.
The genesis of the excitement is Hannah Ribble, described as “revolutionary” and “possessing a vibrant style that speaks for itself.” Indeed! What more could one say? The work, says one curator, “shows insight and innocence, careful detail and random, almost impulsive, execution.”
Hannah is the six year-old daughter of Louise Stainhop Ribble, an executive assistant at the Trundle organization, which specializes in rapid foreclosure and eviction. Hannah’s father, Wilberforce Ribble, is in rust prevention and travels extensively overseas.
The mother said that young Hannah comes to her office after school every day and draws while waiting for her mother. For her canvas she uses the backs of discarded foreclosure notices and inventories of seized family possessions.
“Her use of these instruments of sorrow shows a deep sympathy for the unfairness of urban life,” said Jeffrey Snaggin of Limerick Galleries. “I weep when I contemplate the collision of her purity with the gutter of existence. It is clear that we have a new star,” It was Snaggin who discovered the drawings.
Snaggin is not alone in his praise. I was stunned.
One work, “Our Turkey,” depicts the rejection, nay foreclosure, of the noble bird. The turkey sits alone amid empty bowls of food and other detritus, sad in its mutilated dignity. It is powerful, powerful imagery. To complete the sense of rejection, the work, in purple and lime green, is executed on the back of a form notifying Mr. Albert Farnsworth that his family home is now the property of the bank. Mr. Snaggin has rechristened the work “A Bird in Pain and the Finality of Rejection.”
I talked to the young artist at a birthday party for her best friend forever Allison. She had no comment.
It is not known how long the drawings were hidden. The artist’s mother said the garbage is emptied each night. However, she pointed out, the janitorial service might have missed the papers because of their position behind the power cords at an unoccupied desk. “It’s Norman’s old desk. He was fired because he didn’t meet his quota,” Ms. Ribble said. The mother said Hannah had not met Norman.
However, Norman’s rejection by the Trundle organization is clearly evident in a stunning piece Hannah labeled “Man.” The subject is a gaunt figure, rendered in black, who clearly is making a last grasp for respectability. His left arm, ingeniously depicted twice as long as his right, is thrust to the sky, reaching in vain for the birds nesting on the sun’s rays. The fact that this wretched creature is missing two fingers on his right hand adds to his misery. This masterpiece is executed in black and yellow, with a touch of magenta outlining the man’s eyes.
Art dealer Melbourne Place said he was “speechless” when he first saw “Man.” Snaggin, the gallery owner, has renamed the drawing “Mankind and the Collapse of Reason.”
The paper is smeared on the back, the result of a copy machine malfunction. However, one can see the name “Ornit”” in the corner, and “Eviction” is prominent on the face.
The number of original works by Miss Ribble is not known. According to the mother, Hannah is quite prolific. “Just yesterday she did three or four drawings of a fish. At least it looked like a fish.”
Jeffrey Snaggin said the date for the first public exhibition of Hannah’s work had not been set but that it would likely coincide with Hannah’s spring break. Snaggin said he planned to show the drawings on refrigerator doors mounted to the gallery walls. There will be a design competition for the magnets.
Several museums have expressed interest in speaking with Hannah. Her mother has delayed the meetings due to Hannah’s previously scheduled field trip to a mushroom farm.