Blum & Poe is pleased to present Loose Screw, an exhibition of new paintings by New York-based artist Anna Weyant. This show marks Weyant’s first solo presentation with Blum & Poe.
Anna Weyant’s figurative paintings and still lifes bring to mind childhood bedtime stories and nursery rhymes. Both familiar and ominous, Weyant's versions of these stories feature young female characters trapped in tragicomic narratives. Their stories take unexpected twists at each turn, illustrating complex personalities and attitudes, and an awareness of life's irony. With round and prominent faces, Weyant’s characters echo the mischievous dolls of the famed Madeline children’s book series, featuring girls in a Catholic boarding school in Paris. Often autobiographical, Weyant’s characters are amusing and endearing, though simultaneously moody and dark.
Weyant’s palette prioritizes dark greens and yellows, neutral hues that highlight juxtapositions of humor and solemnity, rebellion and repression. Once an idea emerges, Weyant sketches it on paper in different combinations before settling on a scenario, which she then stage-designs with dolls. Her elaborate and meticulous process culminates in rendering the dramatically lit scenes onto canvas. She references an eclectic range of art historical influences, from seventeenth-century Dutch painters like Gerrit van Honthorst to contemporary artists Lisa Yuskavage and Will Cotton, and pop culture references such as New Yorker cartoons, Bugs Bunny, and the Grinch.
Presenting paintings made in 2020 and 2021, Loose Screw is also a meditation on the current state of humanity during the pandemic, dealing with complicated emotions such as fear, desperation, isolation, ignorance, and aggression. Giving its title to the show, one of the central works Loose Screw (2020), inspired by Otto Dix’s painting Woman With A Red Hat (1921) and Ellen Berkenblit’s portraits, depicts a woman seated at a bar, looking lonely and unhinged. Fascinated with Dix’s depiction of a column emerging from a dark void in the painting’s background, Weyant incorporates it into her own composition, approaching the column as a humorous stand-in for another figure—a reflection on what dialogue looks like in the age of self-isolation.
One still life features a slice of bread stuck with a butter knife, a basket of eggs, and dead fish, eyes open, presented on a silver platter; another, a bouquet of white roses, the flowers cut from the stems. Her characters—some presented upside down, others mouth open, appearing to fall down from a wooden staircase, with spilling breasts—accompany these still lifes to tell an eerie and unsettling story in fragmented vignettes. If followed carefully, these scenes come together to form a magical realist narrative.
Loose Screw invites viewers to a therapy session, a look at episodes and memories from childhood—an exorcism of thoughts and experiences at emotional heights.
Anna Weyant (b. 1995, Calgary, Canada) received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI. Weyant’s work was the subject of the solo exhibition Welcome to the Dollhouse at 56 Henry, New York, NY (2019). Her work has been featured in group exhibitions, including Life Still, C L E A R I N G, New York, NY (2020); Sit Still, Anna Zorina Gallery, New York, NY (2020); Humanmakes, Recharge Foundation, Singapore (2020); Historicity, Ochi Projects, Los Angeles, CA (2019); Of Pursism, Nina Johnson Gallery, Miami, FL (2018); and Circles without Breaks, Local Projects, Long Island City, NY (2017).