Gesture and Spirit – Anji Main

New Hall Art Collection, November 2009

To say that Main’s work is rooted in abstract expressionism and action painting, whilst containing a measure of truth, is possibly to underestimate its place in the field of contemporary developments in painting, which she is keen to champion in the face of critiques that would point us to the history of painting and thus to what has already been achieved and also suggest that all that can be achieved in painting has already been achieved.  Her project continually questions and deconstructs itself, and thus presents a very complex field of possibilities, none of which perhaps are fully ‘materialized’.  In these works you will see not one expression, in the sense of a consistent style, but several, reflecting the multiplicity of sensation and event in a field of coexistent possibilities.

Sensation, or sense, is important in this work, and takes us to a level of perception that expands normal physical expectations, a kind of synesthesia, in which multiple sense experiences are translated into and stored in the physicality of paint.  Compositions here are not static, but seem continually to elide definition, the images themselves are unstable, unmappable, complex to the point of disintegration, almost shapeshifting.  Anji originally chose movement as her object, but it is not merely that her paintings present an analogue of movement.  The relationship is formulated as being a direct conversion of the sense of movement into another format, which thereafter holds the energy of the event that produced it.  What the painting transmits, therefore, is not the empty form of gesture, but the animating spirit with which it is fused.

This work, then, whilst acknowledging a partial debt to modernist schools of painting, is nonetheless a product of a contemporary cultural milieu.  It is a project that reflects the polysemous interpretations that define poststructuralist critical theory, as well as insights inherent in quantum physics, such as Uncertainty Principle, wherein our commonplace habits of perception are challenged by a view of reality that suggests quite different laws.  This is not actually “expressionism” at all, but a calculated attempt to present immanence or the numinous, and reflects a metaphysics that arises uniquely out of the contemporary cultural context.  If we talk about ‘expressionism’ we are immediately caught up in solipsism and the striving of an individual ego.  In contrast, this work moves beyond the personal, and the emotional, and tackles a level of reality where such conditions are incidental, and where the individual becomes part of a process that produces, and is produced by, multiple interlocking forces of reality. 

Pete Jackson