Anna Betbeze: Dark Sun
February 24 – June 24, 2018
Third Floor Galleries
To create her current body of work–large-scale abstract painting on wool rugs–Anna Betbeze employs fire, water, acids, and colorful industrial-strength dyes. With vivid hues and battered sculptural surfaces, Betbeze’s works are layered and visceral. She describes the experience of making as well as viewing as “when seeing becomes breathing, stroking, tasting, and sound–often simultaneously.” By exploring the dichotomies of abjection/ beauty, abandonment/care, and destruction/creation, each painting gives the viewer a sense that these peculiar objects were found in their decayed but colorful state rather than made, allowing them to fluctuate anachronistically between the historical and the contemporary. Anna Betbeze: Dark Sun, which was organized by the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and the Jarvis and Constance Doctorow Family Foundation, also includes a new series of smallerscale works on paper that continues the artist’s investigation of the inherent qualities found in her materials.
In this case, Betbeze explores the paper’s rate of absorption through her use of saturated pigments, staining, and layered media. The relationship between the works on paper and the rugs is made apparent not only in her use of vibrant colors and textured surfaces but also in the areas where the white of the walls and the white of the paper peek through from behind the areas of color, creating a visual resting point for the viewer. Like the recent eclipse where the moon negated the sun, providing a moment of darkness and reflection on our relationship to light, Betbeze’s paintings are born from a similar negation.
Using destruction as a force for creation, what remains are works that can be sensed as well as seen. Anna Betbeze was born in Mobile, Alabama, grew up in Columbus, Georgia, and received a B.F.A. from the University of Georgia and an M.F.A. from Yale University. Her work has been shown at institutions such as MOMA PS1, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, among other galleries and institutions around the world. Her works are in the permanent collections of The Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University and the High Museum in Atlanta. Her work has been reviewed in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Artforum, and The Los Angeles Times. Betbeze is a recent recipient of the prestigious Rome Prize. She currently lives in New York City.