October 20-November 20, 2021
Color, in my opinion, behaves like a [human] in two distinct ways—first in self-realization and then in the realization of relationships with others. In my paintings, I have tried to make the two polarities meet—independence and interdependence.
— Josef Albers
Alexander Berggruen is pleased to present Anna Kunz: With Rays. This exhibition opened Wednesday, October 20, 2021 with a reception from 5-7 pm at the gallery (1018 Madison Avenue, Floor 3).
In Anna Kunz’s paintings, tessellating, seeping bodies of color mingle and levitate, resulting in lifted, sometimes dissonant, harmonies, often landing in surprising resolutions. These relationships and reactions occur simultaneously, like an entire improvisational jazz arrangement played as the receiver encounters each pitch and chord of color. Unexpected notes of form provide a site of, in the artist’s words, “shared sensory experiences and the temporary disruption of social and material boundaries.”
With respect to Josef Albers’s eponymous 1959 painting Homage to the Square: With Rays in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Kunz seeks to convey through her compositions in this exhibition optical progressions as colors “ray out” towards the viewer and into their vision. Following Albers in drawing parallels between the relationships of colors and those of humans, Kunz’s approach to color perception produces an intra-active—a term coined by feminist physicist Karen Barad, which postulates that action originates from within relationships’ structures, not from cause and effect between individual entities—viewing experience. Her colors captivate the viewer in bodily contemplation as each layer tenderly reveals its instability, contingent on light, time, and perspective.
Conceived of as one continuous body of work, each of Kunz’s paintings function both independently and interdependently. The artist paints on the floor with only two colors a day, carefully layering watery washes while moving around each edge. Working on multiple canvases simultaneously, Kunz orchestrates a coherent conversation, or argument, in the lexicon of color. Through her ritualistic labor of care—applying color like scattered light, creating pulsing, breathing forms—she imbues her paintings with depth. Much like life’s delicacy, her shapes are poised in a fragile balance, teetering on the edge of transparency and opacity, falling into or surging from the canvas. As these colors become bodies leaning on and bleeding into one another, they build what the artist calls “compassionate geometry.”
Often titling her artworks with found words and phrases from poetry and prose, Kunz describes composing her work in terms of orchestrating, writing, and choreographing. The language around painting proves insufficient for the ways in which her work captures sensations; and even this language proves reductive and elusive for paintings which, in her words, “privilege sensation over interpretation.” Centering a viewer in awareness, Kunz’s work presents ebullient space for introspection and communion, while also confronting viewers with their own, in Kunz’s words, “embodied subjectivities.”
Anna Kunz: With Rays ran at Alexander Berggruen (1018 Madison Avenue, Floor 3) from October 20-November 20, 2021. The exhibition’s preview is available upon request. For all inquiries, please contact the gallery at email@example.com.
Anna Kunz received an MFA from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL and a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Kunz participated as an artist-in-residence in the Marie Walsh Sharpe Studio Program, Brooklyn, NY; and The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME, among others. The artist’s work has been exhibited at: McCormick Gallery, Chicago, IL; The Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL; Providence College Galleries, Providence, RI; TSA Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, Brooklyn, NY, and Madrid, Spain; and WhiteBox New York, NY. Her work is included in the public collections of The Philadelphia Museum, Philadelphia, PA; The Block Museum, Chicago, IL; and Columbia University Teachers College, New York, NY; among others. Kunz has been honored with nominations from: 3Arts Foundation, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Emerging Artist award from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Artadia finalist, Chicago, the Rema Hort-Mann Foundation’s Individual Artists Grant, and The Joan Mitchell Foundation. The artist lives and works in Chicago, IL.
The Brooklyn Rail’s New Social Environment program held a virtual conversation about Alexander Berggruen‘s exhibition Anna Kunz: With Rays Friday, November 5 at 1 pm EST. Artist Anna Kunz joined Rail Editor-at-Large David Rhodes for a discussion. The event concluded with a poetry reading by Jessica Jacobs.
We are pleased to share with you a new essay, “Anna Kunz: With Rays,” written by Nell Andrew. Following the artist’s gesture and her inspirations from modernism, Andrew dives into the life Kunz imbues into her paintings via color.