Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

Resist: Inauguration at Una Gallery
Early February links
First Thursday Picks February 2017
Dead tree media & dead horse flogging news
Post Snowpocalypse Weekend Picks
More Disjecta'd
New Year opportunities
Monday Integrity Links
First Thursday Picks January 2017
Jason Berlin + Alanna Risse at Rainmaker
Saying goodby to 2016
Mid December Links

recent comments

Double J

categories

 

Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Essays
Interviews
News
Openings & Events
Photoblogs
Reviews
Video
Links
About PORT

regular contributors

 

Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman

archives

 

Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us

 

Contact us

search

 


syndicate

 

Atom
RSS

powered by

 

Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a

 

Creative Commons License

Wednesday 12.28.05

« 2005 your best and worst picks | Main | Artists using Clothes part 1- Chandra Bocci »

Anna Fidler - Oblivious Peninsulas

Anna Fidler's new body of work at Pulliam Deffenbaugh is entitled Oblivious Peninsulas. Oblivious Peninsulas represents a point of expansion for the artist as she moves elegantly from cut paper collages into painting, while preserving her personal direction intact through the medium shift.

Mountain_Aura.FS.jpg

I haven't been in town long enough to have seen her earlier work, but thanks to my trusty research staff I have been able to get some idea of how this show represents significant growth for the artist. It is significant that peninsulas are places to jump from, and this metaphor elucidates not only this particular point in Fidler's career, but also the relationships she creates between washy, flowing, glittery, lurid, fields of paint and the accreted materiality of the "peninsulas" as objects.

Fidler is a polymath musician, artist, and video-maker(thanks Jeff, not only for introducing me to that word, but for taking the time to convince me that it wasn't in fact a synonym for polygon, as I at first believed). Fidler's agility in operating simultaneously in several different arenas while always maintaining her particular artistic phenomenology impressed me. The works relate to one another in poetic resonance and subtle inversion. In the video, abstract felt objects of pure color accrete in stop motion in a perfect, simple pattern on a rocky seashore. It is as if an abstract element of a painting or collage consisting only of form, color and pattern has somehow escaped its boundaries and spontaneously, joyously proliferated among the rocks. It exists among other "natural" life forms that grow teeming among the tide pools. Fidler transmutes compositional principles to primordial, vitalistic forces, and pushes the idea of "art object" towards organism by recontextualizing a single element.

Albertaclipper_FS.jpg

While non-representative, all of her imagery relates to biology. I found myself thinking simultaneously of landscape paintings and diagrams of the cells and processes of the epidermis.

The paintings are subtle inversions of the direction of the video. Here, formal elements of painting (shape/ composition/ color etc.) are seen as vitalistic forces, and the more real, more natural object, the peninsula form, accretes on the surface of the painting intruding into the abstract field. In Fidler's video piece abstract painting elements infiltrate landscape, in the paintings, landscape infiltrates an abstract environment. The peninsulas, built by geologically layering paper and paint extend into nebulous pools of glittery shock pink. The peninsulas evaporate the aura of the picture plane. The surface of the painting becomes liquid and flimsy compared to the assertive materiality of the peninsula. In both the video piece and the paintings, Fidler plays with this tension, juxtaposing the incontrovertible reality of landscape (the hardness of rock) with the indeterminate, responsive aura of abstract painting.

It is clear that Fidler views abstract art-making as a responsive practice, the paintings exist for the pleasure of the viewer. Fidler's work is raucously ebullient, fields showered with patterned sprays of pink bubbles and glitter. It is the rectangular equivalent of a wild new year's eve party at the moment right before everyone kisses. Or perhaps a beautifully decorated prom with an under sea theme.

AFidlerGlacialFjordsweb.jpg

My research staff informs me that much of her previous work dealt with abstractions and collages derived from under the sea imagery. It is significant, then, that in the peninsula paintings, the perspective has changed. The image now floats just above the surface of the picture plane/ ocean. The picture plane is the ocean, and the peninsula offers a foothold in the real world. Fidler has created a bridge between the material world and the abstract aura, implying that abstract painting is in fact, another kind of environment, not just a set of rule systems and stratagems.

Even at the height of the modernist citadel (painting is painting) it was always debated whether or not abstraction could really be free of representation. It seems to me that abstraction, even if it represents nothing directly, always uses the mechanics, or language of representation. There is always something to recognize, even if it is something primordial. In some way, aren't Pollocks also depictions of entangled spaces? Aren't Rothkos also depictions of rarified, spiritualized atmospheres?

Fidler plays on the tension in this debate and acknowledges abstract fields as spaces, even providing a more solid place to enter from. It is a complicated issue with her paintings however, because the sea has a surface as well as defining a space. So the paintings end up half in and half out, oscillating between opaque surface and transparent space, generating the same mysterious feeling as standing on a rocky seashore, where the transparency of the ocean hints at its vastness, while its surface makes that vastness inscrutable. There is a foothold from which we can experience the incomprehensible, but no guide to what exactly we are looking at. All we can see is that it is something joyous and flowing. Really elegant moments occur when, within the broad flow of paint, a little angular, geometric rainbow shape briefly emerges only to be pulled back into the current.

So Fidler abandons the seriousness of abstract painting as a meaning unto itself without dismantling its history. She acknowledges space and opacity without giving up mystery and then connects it all in to pleasure. It is the pleasure of knowing that some things are beyond our understanding. It is the pleasure of the vast and incomprehensible.

And these paintings want to please you, they jump up to be noticed, throw confetti in the air, laugh at your jokes, kiss you on new years. And hasn't pleasure always been important in art, after all? Without sacrificing craft or articulation, Fidler uses joy as an energizing force.

Anna Fidler • Oblivious Peninsulas • Nov. 29th to Dec. 30th • (this show ends soon!)

Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery • 929 NW Flanders St. • Portland, OR • 97209 • 503.228.6665

Posted by Isaac Peterson on December 28, 2005 at 14:32 | Comments (1)


Comments

I felt it was a successful re-orientation show for Fidler but I see too much Laura Owens meets Laurie Reid meets a little Marc Grotjahn. Despite the successful pastiche there are many good paintings here...

The video is good when its kinda supernatural... ala the classic film Picnic at Hanging Rock but it gets bogged down in "Zoom" meets "HR Puff-n-stuff" nostalgia at times too.

Overall, I think Fidler needs to shed some of the influences, plus amp up the topography and washes. A little more supernatural mystery in both the videos and paintings might really do the trick too.

As for "polymath"... I got lots of shit from Harvard and Northwestern grads for using a word they didnt know a couple years ago but its a good word and it unfortunately showed show up in an ultra pretentious Art Forum piece about a year ago. Personally, I use it as a little homage to the late Minor Meyers jr. who was president of my alma mater as well as president of the polymath society. He was very supportive and engaging... he was only 60 when he died (lung cancer).

Frankly, using polymath is easier than compiling some laundry list of disciplines that many creative people naturally accrue.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2005 04:25 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?


s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee