Phosphor on the Palms By Anj Smith
At Hauser and Wirth
I had not really heard much about this artist or the Exhibition before entering, but was blown away by the quality of the workmanship and the novel use of materials. Smith talks about this exhibition exploring shifting boundaries and disintegration, encompassing death and desire, sexuality and language (Hauser and Wirth, 2015).
When entering the space, I felt drawn towards the unframed paintings, like they were windows into a lost land. Smith invites you into this dark and formidable world with exquisite detail and intense vibrancy of colour. This is juxtaposed with the clean, white space of the gallery.
When encountering the first work, Letters of the Unconscious (2015) (See Fig.1) I was drawn in by each individual hair painted and the level of detail in the applied oils. As I absorbed the image, I found myself confronted with the depiction of a monkey`s bottom; Smith had successfully drawn me into her bleak and mysterious world. Not only was it possible to see every line of hair Smith articulated through her brush strokes, but also in the three dimensional quality of the pieces. Smith explores shifting boundaries in the way her work seems to mutate into something different, like Uncurtaining the Night (2014). The paint appears to drip off the canvas, morphing into a new entity; the glossy finish enhances the vivid colours applied underneath. They border on the idea of assemblage in the types of objects portrayed in these works.
This Exhibition was packed with layers symbolism and animal imagery, many of which could easily be missed by the viewer, in their delicate intricacy and positioning. With huge hints to surrealism, Smith successfully identifies with concepts of death and sexuality in this sombre series of paintings. With the Beauty of articulation coupled with death and a warped sense of deep seated, dark, unconscious impulses.
Keh, Pei-Ru (2013) ‘The Flowering of Phantoms’ by Anj Smith at Hauser & Wirth, New York At: http://www.wallpaper.com/art/the-flowering-of-phantoms-by-anj-smith-at-hauser-wirth-new-york (Accessed 10/11/15)
Hauser & Wirth, (2015). Anj Smith: Phosphor on the Palms. [Paper copy]
Stevens, Wallace (b.1879) Fabliau of Florida. At: : https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/fabliau-florida (Accessed 10/11/15
Timeout, (2015) Anj Smith.At: http://www.timeout.com/london/art/anj-smith-phosphor-on-the-palms (Accessed 11/11/15)
Tate (s.d) Romanticism. At: http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/r/romanticism (Accessed 13/11/15)
Figure 1. Letters of the Unconscious (2015) [Oil paint on Linen] At: http://www.hauserwirth.com/exhibitions/2565/anj-smith-phosphor-on-the-palms/list-of-works/1/ (Accessed 13/11/15)
Figure 2. Uncurtaining the Night. (2014) At: http://www.hauserwirth.com/exhibitions/list-of-works/view?exhibition_id=2565&p=16 (Accessed 13/11/15)