press release

The abstract paintings of US American artist Anoka Faruqee are characterised by pulsating optical and chromatic effects. Patterns and motifs recur in her pictures as she adjusts and permutates them in apparently infinite variations in order to plumb the laws of painting. One of her central aims is to create a tension between the atmospheric impressions of light and illusion and the material nature of colour and paint.

Influenced by digital technologies on the one hand and the geometries of Islamic art on the other, Faruqee investigated the relationships between original and copy, authenticity and reproduction in a group of diptychs (2000–2005). For example, she paired pictures where one was created by a spontaneous pouring of paint and the other, using the first as a model, imitated it through a laborious process. The artist divided the picture into a fine grid and painted the small pixel-like fields with identical corresponding colour nuances. Thus the apparently digitalised version of the first picture is both a copy and an original. In the final analysis, the various versions of the image query the value inherent in each painting, whether in strange spontaneity or in familiar human determination.

Since 2012, Faruqee has worked on the series Moiré Paintings, Circle Paintings, and Wave Paintings, which, in contrast, dedicate her attention to moirés, the optical phenomena that equally describes interference patterns in wave formation, magnetic fields and computer monitor screens. These paintings are created with notched tools raked through wet paint, in a range of gestures, from freehand to controlled. Paradoxically, the paintings distinguish themselves by the high level of perfection and self-control in their production processes as much as by the moments where slips and shakes of the hand and the flow of the paint produce irregularities and errors. Although these events are often remnants of the human gesture, they also result from the limitations of the tools and materials, simultaneously reading as painterly gesture, material accident, and electro-magnetic corruption. Critical to her systematic engagement is that Faruqee does not deal with pattern as superficial decoration but as a physical structure built up of modular forms and colours. Her pictures are distinguished by a moulded shimmer and a dynamic depth. Because of the difficulty in grasping the superimposed viewpoints, the visual interaction of the linked layers of the pattern oscillate between movement and rest.

Anoka Faruqee’s exhibition in the Secession is her first institutional solo show in Europe.