Monday, December 14, 2009
Before and After
Anya Henis: Raw Feels
26 November - 12 December 2009
This display of a dozen watercolours inside the gallery and five on the outside noticeboard in the corridor, reveal Anya Henis to be capable of making works totally different from the tightly composed, representational oil on canvas works she has presented at Newcall and The Physics Room. The marks on these pinned up pieces of paper, in contrast to her earlier work are fluid and loose, working the zone between order and chaos. They happen to be her best work yet I think - by far - having a generous expansive quality, free from the pinched compression of the canvases.
Some of the most exciting examples are based on wet skeletal grids that peek through the over-painted colour. The strong and frenetically applied chroma plays off against the watery underpinning that somehow retains a compositional focus through a dominantly structured pattern. These works are turbulent as clusters of frenzied marks - though not in the emotional mood of the actual colour - yet control is never too far away. The six large works have real impact. Their delicate washes are impossible to photograph but the interwoven tangled and patterned forms intrigue.
I’ve no idea why Henis has switched to such a different visual style and technique. Perhaps she maintains (or has maintained) two sorts of practice simultaneously: one carefully preplanned and tight; the other improvised, loosey-goosey and spontaneous. If Raw Feels is this show’s title, then perhaps the other work is Cooked Thinks? As a foil, this 'under-heated' exhibition is an exciting development.
(Thanks to Nick and William for organising images.)