Hanging Interpretations

Beata Patricia Pac, NY Arts Magazine, May/June 2004

Drawing is one of the most sensitive mediums. It directly reflects the artist’s emotions and gestures through connecting the artist to the work without interruption. In Anna Socha VanMatre’s creations, these features are part of an ambiguous and clever game in which the tension between abstraction and reality keeps the viewer in a position of a “hanging interpretation.” We seem to be among clouds: black, heavy, graphite clouds. But in fact, we are among emotions. Her latest exhibition entitled In Time In Between (May 6 – June 8) at Gallery@49 will feature a new multiple-panel installation as well as works from previous series.

VanMatre is a Polish born artist who constructs graphite paintings on three-dimensional surfaces. Her works have been exhibited in many countries and have been described by critics as “symphonies of blackness, gray and light” and a significant step in “liberating” the drawing idiom. Titles such as HABITAT, LIMITS, NO, HOPE, METAMORPHOSES, and BEYOND THE EARTH CURTAINS reflect the artist’s focus on the relationship between humanity and our environment. It is a world with myriad shades of black and gray, brightened by shafts of white light and a surprising use of color. They illuminate the power of runaway technology, the power of uncontrollable nature, the power of unfathomable inhumanity, without neglecting the power of beauty. This intimacy has led critics to praise her work as more than just a series of static drawings, but instead “a thing of theatrical character, an interaction between the stage and the audience.”

In 2003 VanMatre began a cycle of graphite and pastel works, painted on a kind of synthetic paper new to the art world. The first in the series, In Time In Between – Smoke, is a seven-panel installation arranged in layers creating intricate shadow effects that pull the viewer inside. We are, like it or not, continuously enveloped in a vaporous zone located somewhere between: temporally, spatially, and in terms of our personal journey. The authenticity is confirmed through her individual way of building this half-abstract composition, yet the reality-deprived motifs enhance the imagination and provoke multiple interpretations.

The current exhibition points out the historical progression of her unique method and style that explore the endless array of paper and pencil’s possibilities. Her free hanging early paintings exploited three-dimensionality through their textures and shadows. Later pieces, as monumental as 20 feet, utilized the potential of paper to be torn and cut. Others, some less than two feet and behind glass, achieved the effect through colors and layers. Smoke, with its literally open space, is the most expansive. It is not simply part drawing/part sculpture; rather, it can be considered an extension of the three-dimensionality that was intuitively central to her earliest works.

The exhibition is on display at Gallery@49 (322 West 49 St.) from May 6 to June 8. An opening reception in the artist’s presence will be held on Thursday, May 6, from 6-8 and will feature a live musical performance composed in conjunction with the artist’s work. For more information, please visit Gallery@49.