by Vatsala SethiDec 26, 2022
The Wall Street Journal labelled 27-year-old visual artist Anna Weyant as ‘millennial Botticelli', owing to her recent Instagram popularity that can be attributed to her artistic style that blends historical aspects with popular culture, borrowing influences from the Dutch Golden Age. Her debut exhibition at the Gagosian art gallery -Baby, It Ain't Over Until It's Over - is an extension of her developing aesthetics and themes, resonating with her past work. The contemporary artist, known for frequently naming her contemporary art pieces after her musical tastes that range from old rock to Eminem—has drawn inspiration from a Lenny Kravitz song of the same name for her debut exhibition.
Of the many works on display at Weyant's latest exhibit, implying subtle contrasting elements of the same identity, Two Eileens showcases the same individual in two slightly different settings. The art exhibition unfolds as a suspenseful story, with intriguing subjects especially since the works focus on the protagonists in mundane settings. One such artwork titled Sophie exhibits a woman standing and smiling in the dark which isn’t necessarily frightening by itself, but when the viewer immerses in the eerily dark background of the painting, the spotlighted figure's face bears an eccentric expression, lending the figure an evil impression.
Weyant's perfectly rendered characters often appear to be involved in tragicomic scenarios; in all her artworks, she deploys cynical humour to convey a plethora of eccentricities. There is an awkwardness to her doll-like subjects' smooth-skinned bodies that hint at a manipulative influence of unseen hands, in the figurative paintings. But rather than reacting with violence to these binds they find themselves in, the artist intends for these doll-like subjects to choose distance, exhibiting agency in the form of quiet refusal.
Further, the menacing tone with which the Canadian artist tints her paintings is even prevalent in her still-life drawings. Flowers in It Must Have Been Love and She Drives Me Crazy have a stark disturbing appearance and feel. Her signature sepia-tone paintings echo sorrowful hues found in modern artist Balthus' works. However, Weyant credits her preferred natural palette to her time in Hangzhou in China, at the China Academy of Art, after she graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017.
Weyant‘s work is a seamless blend of art history, pop culture, and personal experiences and her paintings reveal a complex inner world of imagination on closer inspection; as the viewer navigates the highs and lows of pleasure and pain through her works. Her solo exhibition, too, is an extension of this eerie creative landscape of her imagination.