NEVVEN is proud to present Discrete, a solo show by Sara Anstis presenting new works on paper, ceramic sculptures and a site-specific pastel mural that transforms the gallery space and carries the viewer into the intriguing realm where the personal mythology of the Swedish-Canadian artist takes shape.
The characters of Sara Anstis’s works are feminine, often alone in nature, nude and liberated in their exuberant sexualities. In the scenes depicted by the artist they appear almost momentarily frozen, as if they were unexpectedly caught, or peeked at, in a moment of sensual intimacy or quirky daydreaming. This voyeuristic feeling derives partly from the fact that Anstis has, in the past, studied social groups as a sociology student and is herself a curious observer of her own characters, but also simply from the magnetic and fascinating otherness of this fantasy world which we are invited to peek in at.
In a piece in the exhibition, one of the figures’ breasts elongate to pick a flower from the soft earth while they simultaneously catch butterflies with their ass cheeks. In other works, their legs can turn into mermaid-like fish tails and the exaggerated labia and curves of these characters emanate a joyful and unconstrained desire which —as the artist describes it— can only be created out of a bodily knowledge of sexual pleasure and the power this brings. And power is a key-word in these representations. The depiction of subjectivity, nudity and sexuality that the artist presents us with is empowering and free from social constraints, therefore refreshing and at the same time exhilarating.
In Sara Anstis’s works the viewer can find a narrativity and an oneiric atmosphere that clearly brings to mind the Greek and pan-Mediterranean mythology of Odysseus and Ulysses, or better of Venus, Circe, Scylla and Ceto. These ancient myths resound with us alongside the artist’s desire to create a mythology of her own. In Greek mythology, gods were wild, powerful and driven by desire; they acted out of instinct and feeling, sensuality and compassion and so do the characters in Sara Anstis’s works. Free and empowered, desiring and tender, they are caught mid-action in an intimate realm and inscribed into a masterfully drawn new mythology that is both idiosyncratic and capable of addressing crucial contemporary questions. They grace us with the strength of their nature as they present themselves: untamed and marvellous, busy and tender, aroused and empowered by their own glorious and inspiring freedom.