On the occasion of the gallery’s 25th anniversary, Blum & Poe is pleased to re-present its inaugural exhibition, Anya Gallaccio’s Stroke. Initially exhibited in September of 1994 at Blum & Poe’s first location in Santa Monica, Stroke is a visceral installation of thick, dark chocolate painted on the gallery walls. Twenty-five years later, Gallaccio will recreate this installation in an exhibition space that mirrors the exact dimensions of the gallery in which Stroke was originally presented.
Stroke plays with perceptions of desire and their disconnection from reality. In this chocolate-covered room, an idea pulled from a childlike fantasy comes to life and goads the viewer’s appetite for pleasure. The whimsical notion of an edible room is contrasted with the strikingly rich, dark color of the walls and their heavy, sometimes putrid, smell. Of this disconnect, Gallaccio states, “the idea of a chocolate room is one thing, and the reality of a chocolate room is very much something else.” Created by thousands of small, repeated brush strokes for which the installation is named, prolonged looking is rewarded when one sees new colors, textures, and patterns appearing out of the darkness.
Rooted in the formal language of Minimalism, Gallaccio’s practice uses organic materials to subvert and reframe that male-dominated moment in art history. Trees, flowers, fruit, and ice are investigated for their fluidity and impermanence, and decay becomes a part of the installation to be embraced. The unpredictability of these ephemeral materials yields a freeing inability to control the final product, from which unexpected results emerge. These materials, pulled from a feminine, domestic space, challenge a masculine past and reclaim a place in history. As noted in the original press release from 1994: "Feminist in material, natural in its decay, subversively Freudian, Stroke is an enigmatic and challenging work."
Anya Gallaccio (b. 1963, Paisley, Scotland) studied at Kingston Polytechnic, London and Goldsmiths College of University of London. Gallaccio’s work has been the subject of international exhibitions including in the 21st Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2018); Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island, Northumberland, UK (2018); Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA (2015); Artpace, San Antonio, TX (2013); Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh, Scotland (2012); Camden Arts Center, London, UK (2008); Sculpture Center, Queens, NY (2006); Palazzo delle Papesse Centro Arte Contemporanea, Siena, Italy (2005); Tate London, UK (2003); Tate Britain, London, UK (2002); Serpentine Gallery Lawn, London, UK (1997); and the ICA London, UK (1992). Her work is represented in the permanent collections of numerous international institutions including Arts Council of England, London, UK; British Council Collection, London, UK; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia; Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, Paisley, Scotland; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; South London Gallery, London, UK; Tate Britain, London, UK; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, among many others. In 2003 she was nominated for the Turner Prize of the Tate Britain, London, UK. She is a professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego, CA.