Anna Socha VanMatre was born in Poland and educated at the Kraków Art High School and the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts where she received her Master’s Degree. She has been credited with developing techniques utilizing graphite on three-dimensional paper and creating monumental graphite paintings, many 10 to 20 feet high. Critics have described her works as “symphonies of blackness, gray and light” and a significant step in “liberating” the drawing idiom. At an exhibition at the Jerusalem Center for the Arts, her installation was praised as much more than a series of static drawings, but instead “a thing of theatrical character, an interaction between the stage and the audience.” Anna VanMatre’s works have been presented in exhibitions throughout Europe, Israel, Africa, and the U.S. They are held in the Art Museum in Toruń, Poland, the Krasiński Library in Warsaw, and in private collections in Poland, India, Sweden, Denmark, Morocco, Israel, and the U.S. She is the recipient of several prizes including the prestigious S. Wyspiański Memorial Award. Since 1997, she has
resided in Cincinnati, Ohio.
From 1979-2003 she created cycles of black and white works entitled CLOUDY LANDSCAPE, TURBULENT TIMES, HABITAT, SPACES and LIMITS. In 1996 she started a new cycle of graphite paintings called HOPE IN BLUE which added color for the first time. From 1998-2003 she developed 7-panel sequential works called Metamorphoses-Water and Metamorphoses-Fire. The titles refer to the presence of cyclical elements and procedures forming a single movement with constant contrasts and changes. At the same time, she began composing small collages in a new cycle called BEYOND THE EARTH CURTAINS.
“NO” has been one of the longest running series by Ms. VanMatre. She stunned the public with themes of nuclear proliferation beginning in 1982 using graphite on 10 foot three-dimensional paper; later, industrial pollution and dangerous technology were the focus. The horror of Chernobyl was the subject of “NO” in a group of 1993-96 gray and black works on torn and cut paper. In 1997, the series entered a new phase with the addition of color, suggesting fire, and serving in retrospect as an ominous prediction of her 2001-02 versions which said “NO” to terror and intolerance through three-dimensional vertical diptychs.
2003-04 marked the introduction of the installations In Time In Between-Smoke and In Time In Between-Volcano containing large layered forms with dramatic shadow effects. In 2005 her cycle LINES ABOVE featured vibrant objects in graphite on synthetic paper, three-color silkscreen on glass, and black and white lithography. Another cycle, CITIES, showed 18 different images of the sky above various cities. In 2006 her cycle PRIMARY COLORS utilized intricate drawing techniques, silkscreen on glass, collage materials like textured paper and foil, and color-layering, to evoke a magnified view of the world above the horizon. DENSITY ABOVE from 2006 is a group of paintings based on observations of rock formations in Sedona, Arizona and New York City’s Central Park. The 2007-08 cycle OPEN, unites sea and sky in perhaps the most expansive of all her nature-based themes. By focusing on the lack of boundaries between water and air and their endless upward and downward reach, the viewer is asked to reconsider all self-constructed barriers. DENATURAL DISASTER 2009 focuses on the devastation created by Humankind and/or Nature with forms dominated by dark color and touched by the red stream of blood-lava. Explosion-Clouds become a medium of communication between Earth-Reality and Sky-Eternity, allowing the viewer to understand them as the intervention of human brutality or the power of nature. Ms. VanMatre’s most recent series, CONSTANT, WATERFALLS, STREAMLIGHT, and DISCOVERIES, explore the endless energy of water.
Ms. VanMatre was honored to be featured in the 2011 Miami University Art Museum exhibition, Out of the Shadows: The Rise of Women in Art. It examined women as the subject of art, explored the role of women as artists, and looked at the struggles women have endured in an effort to be recognized for their talents. She also has been active in presenting lectures about her philosophy and techniques at universities and arts/culture organizations. 2015 presentations included three universities in China where she addressed the students, participated in round table exchanges with faculty, and engaged in collaborative painting sessions comparing her methods with Chinese calligraphy techniques.