Anese at Gallery d’Arte
Anese is a Korean-born artist now working in New York City. She is given to an art of intense spirituality, with a cosmic flair that emphasizes stars, galaxies, space. Her sense of life is open and indeterminate, in the sense that she feels people truly don’t know what to expect from their given path. Hoping to help them both appreciate and to some extent understand the mysteries of the world, Anese builds a vocabulary that emphasizes the stars as a map of spiritual freedom, without which our lack of knowledge of the worlds around us would condemn our efforts to the merely human. The viewer doesn’t sense that the artist’s temperament is doctrinal in a specific sense; instead, it is a way of acknowledging unseen forces and meanings that we tend to disregard or back away from. Art may be a limited means for guidance toward a spiritual or even religious insight, but it does what it can and in this work skillfully portrays a place in which the stars are both beautiful physical entities and ethereal presences affecting our beliefs. Anese’s language thus makes it clear that a full life depends upon exploring the unknown, and reporting on it in a way that emphasizes its exquisite beauty.
The paintings themselves are exuberant depictions of star forms, planets, visual portrayals of energy. They are self-sustaining representation of worlds unknown to the naked eye, so that our experience of them depends on either pictures taken from long-distance telescopes or on a vivid imagination informed by such images. An emphasis is made to recognized the extent of our unknowing. Eclectic (DATE), a black-and-white image, consists of a spherically shaped form on the lower half of the composition, with stalactite shapes issuing upward from the sphere’s surface. These might be solar flare-ups or some sort of moon rock formation, but whatever they truly are, it is clear that the subject is otherworldly. With regard to the planet paintings, Energy 4 (DATE) puts forth a partial sun at the bottom center of the work, with a series of increasingly large spheres leaving the yellow sphere upward toward the left. One can only wonder at the circumstances behind the image, but it is clear that the subject concerns how a certain dynamism is based upon the force of light traveling over extreme distances. The painting projects a feeling of mystery, of purpose beyond our knowledge.
Eclectic 10 (DATE) is a much more worldly image: a picture of a ladder on the left and a chair on the right. The lower part of the wall backing them is set in shadow, but as the wall rises a brilliant intensity of light comes into play. The floor, shrouded in shadow, consists of dark blue and light blue squares in a checkerboard pattern. It is clear to see that the ladder reaches toward the light, while the prosaic chair sits wanly in relative dimness. A visual allegory of ascent, Eclectic 10 makes it clear that the effort to rise toward luminosity is not only a heavenly procedure but also a human one, a process that is even rather matter-of-fact, to be effected with a ladder. The spiritual import of thepicture is not lost to us, but neither is the artist’s notion that our perceptions are always partial and quite literally bound to the earth. So this is a picture with a mystical meaning, but one that is generated through human effort. Cumulatively, the body of Anese’s work demonstrates a willingness to describe the necessity of spiritual change: in GI-1 (2016), a big red path faces us in the middle of the picture, with planet-like spheres above it on the left. Underneath the curving red path, we see an arrow, pointing to a place we cannot sea.
This arrow may well serve as the key to Anese’s imagination; arrows are found in other paintings. Usually, the function of an arrow is tell us where to go—but what if we have no idea where our destination lies? To Anese’s credit, she won’t particularize the dimensions of her own celestial garden; instead, she simply points the way. It is up to us to determine the coordinates of our path toward heaven, even if the artist refuses to give us anything resembling a place we could explore. Good art tends to provoke questions rather than answer them. The imagination is central to our experience of the unknown, which Anese wisely refuses to describe. Instead, she emphasizes the particular means we have to move beyond ourselves toward a fate that can only be suggested by abstract paths, arrows pointing beyond the limits of sight, and planets that mysteriously multiply. Truly it is up to us to acknowledge our unknowing, although there are hints we can follow in the service of belief. Anese’s unusual quest for the infinite feels quite real, given our drive to transcend and her willingness to help us along the way.