“It starts off with something just not right,” Anna Weyant told us last summer in our featured interview with the NYC-based painter. And while looking at the new paintings for her big debut with LA veterans, Blum & Poe, Loose Screw still shows that things are still not quite right. Besides that, the terms “mature” or “grand” come to mind when looking at these big-scale oils, but seeing how quickly she got to this point we need to be careful about using those. “I’ve started working on larger surfaces so that I can create multi-figure compositions and scale-up my subjects,” the Canadian-born painter told Juxtapoz about the new size of works for this exhibition. “I’m excited to let my figures occupy more space, and I love the idea of having these sort of desperate and feeble characters be, literally, larger-than-life.”
Arguably most noticeable change is the absence of her doll-like young subjects which are now “replaced” by their more grown-up, adult versions. “Those earlier paintings were about looking back. But I think that, now, being present is so necessary,” Weyant told us about what influenced the shift in her cast of characters. “A lot of the work in this show focuses on fear, desperation, isolation, ignorance, and sometimes aggression. Hopefully, there’s still a lightness in moments of humor.” And indeed, even imbued with this still atmosphere that is carried out on the wings of her smooth rendition and out-of-this-time, muted palette, there are elements of humor in each of the works. Somewhat concealed and certainly not forced, it’s the “wrongness” of the details and/or the overall setup that creates these tragicomic narratives. The hand bandage on the glamourous smiling brunette in Loose Screw, 2020, the uncomfortable cleavage in Cloud Hill, 2020, or the piranhas served on a Dutch still life-like table in Buffet, 2020, are quickly evoking the sense of tragicomic narratives that NYC-based artist often works with. “It’s like a bright side of a dark moment or something so cringy, so uncomfortable, you just have to laugh,” the artist told us when we touched this aspect of her work.
Alongside that, the expressionless attitude of her stiff and frontal characters is accented with the highly polished veneer that is covering the scenes. Everything from fabric surfaces, flowing hair, to porcelain skin, turns into somewhat of a wax museum exhibit with accentuated form and weight. Whether depicting the subject falling downstairs in Falling Woman, 2020, or painting the delicate rose petals in a series of floral pieces, Weyant is able to freeze the moment and add almost sculptural qualities to her subjects. It’s the recurring image of a vase with roses as well as the table composition that is revealing her appreciation for still lives and memento mori works. Wrapped inside her melancholic, sepia-toned palette, these are emphasizing the weight of death in the age of a global pandemic.
Even the whole body of work was painted during a year of lockdown and social distancing, Weyant isn’t referencing the surrounding scenario in her work. However, a slight, humorous nod to the confusing reality might be noticeable from the title of the show. “A line in Eminem’s The Real Slim Shady (“I probably got a couple of screws up in my head loose”), was an inspiration for the title,” she explained to us where the catchy title comes from. “The exhibition is named after one particular painting which depicts a lone woman at a bar laughing. The figure in the painting looks somewhat desperate, lonely, and unhinged, so I thought that Loose Screw would be perfect. It’s also sort of a joke on me, as the painting is something of a self-portrait.” —Sasha Bogojev