Tapping one of the oldest and most basic artistic impulses, the twenty or so works in Heide Hatry’s “Icons in Ash: Cremation Portraits” commemorate deceased individuals in a fashion that is in some ways orthodox, in others conceptually striking. Black-and-white representational images eerily evoke specific persons, a few famous (e.g., novelist James Purdy), most not. The likenesses, based on photographs, are subdued and respectful. But the primary material—the cremation ashes of each subject portrayed—brings either solace or unease, depending on the viewer. Since these examples from an ongoing project are all commissions, it’s likely that the pictures’ owners feel an enhanced comfort, a stronger connection to the departed, by virtue of the substrate. Hatry, a German-born artist and former rare book dealer who moved to New York in 2003, is known for projects with a certain queasiness factor: large dolls covered in humanlike pigskin, flowers made from animal parts. Like many of her series, this one is accompanied by a volume of reflections by noted writers and cultural figures—Siri Hustvedt, Jonas Mekas, Rick Moody, and others. —Richard Vine
Pictured: Heide Hatry: Ann D'Arpa, 2014, loose ash particles, binder, and ink, 14 by 11 inches. Courtesy Ubu Gallery, New York.