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Looking On With Anna Park

Words:

Edd Norval
March 29, 2021

Her charcoal images have a surrealistic and yoyeuristic aspect to them - moments captured faithfully, yet exaggerated in the way that real-life becomes when absorbed in a particular time and space. On the precipice of it all, in the corner of the room, the edge of the table, is Anna Park.

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Spotted by KAWS, her talent and distinguishable style setting her apart from her peers, Park draws on a lifetime of moving around, spending time with various groups of people - both by name and by type - who she depicts in her composite snapshots of life. 


Egged on by the possibilities of charcoal, Park manages to capture the kinetic experience of a party, when the edges of people amalgamate with the backdrop, as if by a process of alcohol-induced osmosis. These moments have a hysterical significance, something that seems huge at the time, but completely forgotten come the same time the following day. 


Park uses her material in a very free and expressionistic manner, utilising the black carbon’s ability to be wiped away, smeared and obscured to produce an intimate contouring on her character’s faces simultaneously allowing the ghostly forms of the supporting cast to slink away like a spectral reflection, clearly there, yet imperceptably so.

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A prodigious child, whose talent and eye for the human form was nurtured by an attentive teacher, Park’s ability to capture relatable and recognisable human emotions, attests to her comfort in the human as subject. 


With distorted faces, a la Aphex Twin, Park’s audience becomes swept up and intoxicated by proxy of simply looking on. It is this notion, just looking on, that interests the artist. Being a voyeur has negative connotations as per today’s standards, but at its heart the word has roots in French voir - to see. Seeing is what Park does best. 


Her approach to art must transcend seeing only the surface of a face, which is only a facade in the scenarios that the artist faithfully captures. There’s a cerebral and challenging context to all of Park's art, which proposes a collective psychological portrait of all those present in frame - done simply by capturing a certain gesture or look.

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Some of the characters merge into others, whilst others can be sharply focussed or completely obscured. Memory is often rugged and fragmented, deeply tainted by what came before and what has happened since. Certainly, you don’t get a memory without a feeling. Therefore, we can think of Park’s charcoal creations as much as feelings manifest in various physical (human) forms as snapshots of a ritualistic and theatrical instant.


Some artists are commended for the way they notice details in how a person looks or moves. For Park, she is to be commended for seeing things well beyond the physical, turning a palpable feeling of joy-on-the-verge-of-hedonism into a painting of various textural monochromatic planes. 

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