Above: Annelie McKenzie with her painting, “Elk Bum Scene.”
Two artists tackle the meaning of art and the meaning of life at CB1 Gallery in DTLA through July 17th.
Annelie McKenzie’s “Man in Canoe and Grizzly,” tackles the meaning of art, literally adding layers of of meaning to paintings she has reinterpreted in a re-imagining of a museum exhibition of Old Masters.
“It’s a common practice of artists to do master copies to learn, but here, I’m reproducing works as my final pieces. I chose works by mostly Canadian, female artists,” McKenzie says. “I choose paintings tha are meaningful to me and then I’ll transform them with layers of built-up paint. It’s similar to a musical artist covering songs written by other artists, a re-interpretation,” she explains.
The exhibition’s title piece is based on a 1960 work of the same name by Canadian artist Gladys Johnston, an artist from British Columbia discovered by McKenzie in a catalog. McKenzie visited her studio and painted from the original work rather than a copy. “She was an outsider artist and icon to me,” McKenzie says.
Canadian born and LA-based, the artist includes decorative frames made of caulking and gesso along with her paintings reinterpreting the original works.
Created in oil, these canvasses have an enormous depth due to the artist’s practice of working with dry paint layers over time. “I’ve always done mostly thick impasto work. But here I make my recreation by building the work with paint.”
In “After My Mom’s One Painting,” McKenzie makes use of a painting done by her mother which was going to be thrown away. The still life she recreates is alive with color and swimming in the depth of paint that is 3-dimensional in its layered thickness.
Also at CB1 is Susan Silas’ “the self portrait sessions.” Silas is taking on the meaning of life, aging, our own space and place in the world. Using photographs, bronze, and beeswax sculptures she presents an intimate exploration of self-portraiture in this era of selfies.
Silas positions herself in front of a large mirror, examining herself and how she “reflects” in the outside world. Work in this exhibition looks at aging, narcissism, and aging, and intimacy. In the show are photographic works from the late 70s through 2012, with castings created from 1992 to 2015.
Above: Susan Silas with a large scale, color self-portrait using a mirror.
“The theme of aging has been around, and that of self-intimacy and public space, the disappearance of interiority, and how to navicage the question of narcissism. Women tend to demur and defer even now, so in a way, these works are about taking up a certain space in public. Narcissus was male, he was self-contained in a way, with his appreciation of himself. Women are taught that kind of self-observation is not okay,” she notes.
Throughout her work, Silas tackles “three major themes, sexuality, the Holocaust, and dead and decaying birds,” as well as these self-images. On display here are white photos of plaster casts, color photos involving the use of mirrors, casts of her face, beeswax, and bronze sculptures.
What do we see in ourselves? What does the world see? These seem to be the root questions in Silas’ art, much as for McKenzie, the underlying questions appear to be what do we see in art? What layers can we expose or add to the meaning of art.
While the artists are very different in subject and approach, both have universal questions, themes worth exploring and uncovering, as well as works that are thought-provoking, beautiful, and memorable.
CB1 is located at 1923 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
- Genie Davis; all photos: Jack Burke