Simone Subal Gallery

2013 / Anna K.E: The car was his and story mine

Anna K.E.

The car was his and story mine

February 17 – March 17, 2013
Opening reception Sunday, February 17

At the core of Anna K.E.’s diverse practice, which engages equally with sculpture, drawing, and video, is a desire to make spatial interventions, whether in the form of large-scale sculptures or the arrangement of shapes and colors on a piece of paper.  K.E., who trained as a classical ballerina in her native Georgia, has an acute sense of space, of how a body or a thing interacts with an environment and the various permutations that ensue.  For The car was his and story mine, her Lucky Weekend is a sculptural gesture meant to redefine one’s sense of the gallery’s space.  The work plays with the gallery’s relation to the neo-classical pediment of the Bowery Savings Bank seen clearly from the gallery’s front windows.  Roughly eight feet by twenty-five feet, Lucky Weekend consists of five interconnected panels covered with small bathroom tiles.  Embedded within these glossy forms that allude in a low tech manner to the digital pixels that determine the contemporary representational world, are a series of abstract, ceramic shapes arranged to form a triangle—a nod to the looming pediment outside.

The formal elegance of Lucky Weekend develops a major theme in K.E.’s practice: the tension between potential and containment.  K.E.’s composed ceramic shapes create a pictorial hierarchy in which colorful bursts of energy rush toward the structure’s top only to be constrained by the triangular outline.  The palpable feeling of give and take is mirrored by another aspect of the piece: on the far right hand side, isolated on an expanse of tile, are unique posters made by artists of different generations.  The individual posters — twenty-three in all — are on view for no more than a day or two.  They are subsequently covered up with the next poster, creating a situation in which, much like the restricted crescendoing shapes to the left, the posters grow in size at the expense of the previous image.

Latent in all of K.E.’s art is a dark sense of humor that both ironizes the role of the artist and demystifies the auratic qualities of a work of art.  In the video, Gloss of a Forehead (2012), K.E.—bent over with her pants dropped halfway, her naked posterior exposed—shuffles around her studio in a wonderfully poetic, Chaplin-esque dance.  The decidedly strange video is an absurd send-up of the creative process, a sentiment matched by perhaps the most touching feature of Lucky Weekend.  Behind the piece, attached to the supports of the large sheets of tile, are hooks for visitors to hang their jackets and umbrellas while viewing the show: the work of art as a mundane and useful object.


Noemi Smolik, “In Focus: Anna K.E.”, Frieze, Issue 156, Summer 2013 (pdf)

Allese Thomson, “Anna K.E.”, ArtForum Critics’ Picks, March 2013 (pdf)

Dominique Nahas, “The Car Was His…”, dArt International , Volume 16, #1

Past Press: ArtForum, Art in America (pdf)