At the latest outing of Anna Kaplan Contemporary it became evident quite quickly that Reed Anderson’s work is the opposite of sublime; art historically the sublime has been defined as a quality of work which inspires awe. Thinking of Hudson Valley painter’s hazy landscapes of winding rivers and overwrought forests, Anderson’s mixed media practice holds the visual space of the anti-sublime. The anti-sublime becomes an explosion of pictorial space and a different sense of awe, with each carefully crafted trompe l’oleil trope turned inside out; stones become cut spaces hovering above a black ground, trees become razor thin lines arcing out towards the margin of the pictorial plane and sufmato’d daybreak becomes a rollicking after-image moments following a nuclear blast.
DayBreaker includes work from each of the three major veins of Anderson’s practice— his large-scale cut paper works, the “PapaObject” series, and his most recent textile-based banner paintings. Each vein of this exhibition becomes touched and tinted by Anderson’s choice of high-key fluorescent colors, which pitch at psychedelia bordering upon the grotesque. Anderson’s largest works, ostensibly, leave the largest impressions, with the titular DayBreaker accompanied by SunDowner as the anchors of the gallery.
What seduces within this exhibit – beyond the bacchanal of fluorescence – are the key ways in which Anderson chooses to directly engage with art history, and specifically, the history of painting. The “PapaObject” series stands out because of its direct appropriation of images onto the artwork’s surface, with objects of mundanity placed in contrast with statuary whose cultural significance escapes the viewer. These images are then superimposed with bars, bricks, dots, and triangles of color, whose composition and impression of floating against the surface calls to mind Russian Suprematism and Constructivism of the 1910’s.
Anderson’s third large-scale cut paper work, Juice My Lemon, whose overall composition is similar to the first two, also engages with an art historical wink. The piece is both lemon yellow and bubblegum pink and retains the large, black circles and dots of the other large-scale cut paper pieces. It is only when stepping back and seeing the piece within the wider context of the exhibition, that the viewer can then see the bubbled over, corroded apotheosis of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn silkscreens, complete with registration traces from where the screen siren’s image falls apart.
The third prong of this exhibition comes from Anderson’s ripstop nylon pieces which hover (literally) between painting and sculpture. It is always a joy to see the craft and care which goes into the work which develops from the main practice of any artist, and this is present in his work as well. These pieces occupy a space which is both soft and totemic, and speak in tones of the loudest wallflower in the room.
Reed Anderson : DayBreaker is on view now at Anna Kaplan Contemporary through October 6, 2018. The artist will be in conversation in the exhibit with Albright-Knox Art Gallery Deputy Director, Joe Lin-Hill on Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 6pm. Hours and further information can be found online at annakaplancontemporary.art.
Lead image: DayBreaker