Natural Curiosity: The Beautiful Interiors of Anna Valdez
"I’m not a super tidy person, nor incredibly organized," Anna Valdez told Juxtapoz in her print feature a few years back. "My studio is pretty packed, and at times, I feel like I’m bursting at the seams; but for the most part, the space provides me with a lot of information to draw from." Valdez's studio arrangements make for beautiful artistic compositions. The way she paints interiors, stacked with objects and her everyday life, are so vivid and stunning that the lack of compartmentalization is a benefit to the work. This week, Hashimoto Contemporary is pleased to present Natural Curiosity, an exhibition featuring new painting, print, and, much to our delight, ceramic work by Oakland-based artist Anna Valdez.
Venus Painting, 2019. Oil on canvas, 84 x 66 inches.
Well known for her uniquely stylistic still-life paintings, Valdez returns with a new crop of vibrant works and hand-painted ceramics. The pieces comprising Natural Curiosity probe further into Valdez’s daily practice of observation and documentation. Unfurling her signature palette of rich reds, bright yellows and sumptuous surfaces, the exhibition is visual poetry at work, at once rooted in art-historical practices while also remaining faithful to the present moment. Flora and fauna spill from her larger-than-life canvases, punctuated by found objects, carefully placed and arranged from around the studio. Strewn throughout these compositions is the recent addition of her very own hand-painted ceramic vases and flowerpots, many of which have been thoughtfully displayed alongside their two-dimensional counterparts.
The works function both as still life and self-portrait, offering vantage into Valdez’s daily practice and the objects which inform it. Venus Painting, oversized and brilliantly pink, features two of the artist’s plants against a wall covered in a swirling floral design. Framed by the houseplants is a smaller, more serene still life painting, depicting a bust of Venus in cool blue tones. This self-referential painting- within-a-painting nods at the time-honored tradition of oil painters breaking the fourth wall while subtly hinting at a more modern practice of image-viewing and media consumption.
Rainbow Gradient with Graphics, 2019. Porcelain, underglaze, glaze, 8 x 6 inches.
The careful consideration of each detail––each hand-mixed oil paint, every carefully composed vignette––invites the viewer into the artist’s studio and practice of close observation, begging the question: when do we allow ourselves to follow our own curiosity?
Natural Curiosity opens Saturday, October 5, 2019, with an opening reception from 6 to 8 pm. In conjunction, Hashimoto will host an artist talk with: Anna Valdez; Nina Mdivani, curator in residence at Kunstraum, NYC; and Chad Alligood, co-curator of The Beyond: Georgia O'Keeffe and Contemporary Art at the Crystal Bridges Museum; as well as a book signing from 5 to 6 pm marking the release of the artist's debut monograph with the same titled.