Despite not being able to visit artist Anja Salonen’s latest show New Dimensions in Recreation as it’s over in Los Angeles, the images alone are captivating in their composition and painterly skill which sees the artist venturing in a new direction.
Rather than painting onto canvases, Anja’s latest works inhabit the gallery space by becoming three dimensional. “The body of work I’ve made for this show consists of three-dimensional wooden panel structures, painted with illusionistic three-dimensional images that interact with the physical objects,” so that rather than “palpable bodies processed as flat images,” her work reaches “a final form of dimension in “real” space,” the artist explains.
As a result, Anja’s paintings — whether they be projected, on mattresses leaning against walls or on concertina panels boards — create a route to walk round the exhibition, but her artworks also surround you at any point. “In the work, reality is mutable, shadows cast by fluorescent lights on the three-dimensional objects melt into painted illusions,” says Anja. “There is no truth, the flat and the illusory and the dimensional, projections and contractions, fluidly move in and out of one another and through the space without hierarchy.” The artworks themselves vary in colour palette, as real shades of skin tones are juxtaposed with bright reds, usually covering protruding noses.
Anja’s new body of work is inspired by Erwin Panofsky’s Perspective as symbolic form, and Masahiro Mori’s “concept of the ‘uncanny valley’, in which he hypothesised what humanity’s reaction would be to robots that look almost like people, but not quite — on the border of empathy and revulsion, closeness and othering,” the artist explains. “My paintings are objects, flat planes, that hold the illusion of a somatic reality, and that reality’s location on the spectrum of familiarity and alienation also potentially affects the elicited emotional response in the viewer.”
Continuously considering the reaction of the viewer in the exhibition space, Anja thought “a lot about dimensions, alternate realities, the subjectivity of objects, illusion and delusion,” creating an exhibition that pushes the realms of what shape the event should take.
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