Unraveling Abstract Layers

A local artist finds beauty in abstract form.

By Tyler Bierman
Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton


For Andy Hahn, creativity was something he was born with. He was always fascinated by an artist’s ability to portray a subject accurately, but he wasn’t always so fascinated by the abstract side. Hahn describes that “juvenile” way of looking at art as, “If it wasn’t photo realistic, then it just wasn’t art to me.”

So, why did he become an abstract artist? Well, as he matured and obtained his degree in graphic design, abstract art actually began as an escape from the technical art he did for a living. “I realized along the way that there’s beauty in the abstract form. How the textures, colors and tonality can evoke complex feelings in a more subconscious way,” he explains. From there, he began selling his work and doing commissioned pieces. 

Hahn’s process is “as much about adding as subtracting.” He builds up layers of texture first with a clear gel, then he starts with light colors followed by dark colors. As he paints he will take a rag and remove the darker layers, revealing the light paint underneath to create thought-provoking context to a piece with no real intentionality.

In the early days, Hahn found inspiration in simple objects, colors and everyday life, but as he’s evolved he started creating with more intentional context that tie in emotion often through text. Hahn explains, “A little over a year ago I got divorced. It’s a very personal life change that many people experience and it impacts you fundamentally as a human. As a result, I did a lot of pieces of the calming blues and greens of the waters of Tahiti to bring a little calm and structure to my life. It’s not necessarily a direct subject or story, but you can feel the intentionality of the soothing colors.”

Hahn has even begun venturing into some metal artwork that plays with both the strength and delicateness of the medium often including pristine as well as rusted metal, rivets and different types of materials, like wood, to create a personal emotional idea for viewers to unravel.

Hahn’s newest work has both a funny and somewhat uncomfortable edge. As he explains, “It explores the dichotomy between what we express externally versus what we hold internally.” He continues, “I’m manifesting this mainly through words that are obvious and visible combined with partially obscured words in the textured surface. It’s a study on human nature and our need for validation and the perceived perfection in our lives, in conflict with our innate inability to be vulnerable and transparent, resulting in a clear contradiction between the two.”

Even given his quick success, Hahn is still an emerging artist and there’s still plenty that he aspires to. One goal is becoming more locally known and even getting into the St. Louis Art Fair, a feat that he has some real inspiration to shoot for. As Hahn explains, “I was commissioned to do some paintings for the Carrollton Bank in Clayton, which now hangs in their conference room overlooking the fair. So, every year as I admire the other artists I’m kind of in the show even if it’s not official.”

Additionally, Hahn has been commissioned for a plethora of artwork internationally that ranges from pieces that hang in financial institutions to abstract family portraits, but the biggest accomplishment for him is simply being able to share his art.  

Andy Hahn, 314-810-6170, [email protected]