Artist Anna Macrae is a process painter. Her work is generated in response to the materials she uses, and the techniques she has developed. She does not shy away from color, and she holds a special place in her process for imperfection and a disregard for convention.
In her current show Fantasy Landscapes at Shift Gallery, Macrae features oils and mixed media on canvas. And while it is clear they are landscapes, they are abstracted to the point of only hinting at cityscapes and countrysides – hills, skies, fields, playgrounds and a variety of buildings all work together. They are made up. Some are happy. Some are the repetitive buzz of a big city. Archways abound, and rock formations nuzzle up to alleyways, windows are tile-like, and there are busy scratchy areas next to flat color, and then flurries of scratches and texture again.
The vibrancy of the work is key, but the color pairings are what make the pieces so interesting. In And Then This Happened, orange layers over pale pink and reaches down to two greens, one grass-like, the other pastel. One large opaque rock-like form, solid red in color, is on the left with no other color companion save two areas of translucent orange. Making sense of her decision-making leaves you admiring her boldness – or perhaps it’s her love of imperfection. However these painting come about, they work. The viewer can nearly imagine the inhabitants of these landscapes. They invite you to add in people, or moving machine parts, or animals (rabbits are what pop in for me). The paintings invite movement.
As Macrae says in her statement, “I surrender to the rules of chance and natural intuition as I make and play.” Playful they are, but serious as well. Her color-field inspired paintings capture the essence of surreal landscapes, and these are elements of an artist aware of history, building on past works, and forging her style through years of practice.
Seeing these works online does not do them justice. In person, you can see scratches and thick impasto-like texture, folded papers that have been incorporated, bumps, smudges, and details that can only be appreciated when viewing them up close. To see them in person is satisfying. In person, the movement can begin.