Unfolding Abstractions

Anna Macrae Strumpshaw Fen oil and mixed media 2017

Anna Macrae at Shift Gallery through Jan. 27th, 2018

Stephanie Hargrave

A cacophony of bold brush strokes and smudges is what Macrae’s latest body of work features, and it is completely satisfying. Rich color, playful gestures, and “perfectly awkward marks” as she writes, help a network of grids, textural surfaces, organic shapes and tiny line work come alive. The show is titled Making Marks, which she is particularly suited to. She doesn’t shy away from adding in pieces of paper, collage style, and really working her surfaces. She appreciates non-precious, unconventional materials. As she writes in her statement, “the rawness of the brush strokes, smudged ink lines and naive scribbles maintains the freshness of otherwise potentially overworked information.”

Courting contrast and contradiction, she thrives attempting to harness the chaos of the unknown during the creative process. Abstraction drives her, and keeps her engaged with this unknown. The viewer experiences the unknown too. The longer one gazes at a piece, Thorpe Marshes for example, the more the abstraction unfolds. Looking intently, you find all manner of things – buildings, pools, boats, wings – even a small orangish-brown dog jumps out at me. The potential chaos becomes harnessed through the intellectual effort of making sense of the colors, and surfaces. Each piece could be divided into several entire paintings. They are packed, however – entities all unto themselves – with depth enough to let it unfold again in new ways.

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