There was something telling that Anna Park disclosed this week as she opened her solo show, Mirror Shy, at Blum and Poe. "When I moved to NYC, there was just so much going on, and I was taking it all in and painting that feeling. I think my new work is absorbing something different now." And, in an instant, you can see the change. Gone is the tornado of imagery, a brilliant and dizzying array of pop-culture and dionysian pleasure of her past work, and here we see a cinematic and darkly humorous body of work of being a woman in the art world and the world at large. The works are leaner, more direct, more cheeky, more in the tradition of American cinema and advertisement of the mid-20th century.
As the gallery notes, "Bringing the language of advertising into the fold of her practice, Park furthers her self-aware investigations into a society of commodity and surveillance. In moments of stillness that originate from a perspective rooted in empathy for her subjects, Mirror Shy signals to the viewer a newfound sense of control while continuing to address overarching themes in the artist’s oeuvre such as inner conflict, longing, and the one amongst the many. This exhibition marks a shift in Park’s narrative voice—arriving at the center of a world that she had previously looked in on from afar, she is now a participant in that which she actively critiques."
It feels nearly perfect that at the same time Park is opening her new solo show with a completely fresh body of work, her first museum exhibition is on display at SCAD MOA featuring some of her strongest work to date in her previous works. The charcoal works she had been showing were masterful as they were a testament to the strength of the paper she was using. Here in Mirror Shy, Park seems to devote even more love for paper, as she manipulates each surface of her new work with layers of ink, acrylic, charcoal, and paper. The results may seem like a stipped-back body of work, but they are akin to how well the artist uses materials to tell a story. If this is her new voice, she made sure to bring older conversations to the fold. A wonderful show, indeed.