Thursday, July 2, 2009

coming soon Anna Hepler: Intricate Universe...

Woodcuts on Kozo-shi, 18 x 22”, from the Wolfecut series, 2008

Several years ago, watching a swarm of gnats hovering against the sky, I was struck by the contradictory but beautiful effect. A delicate grey sphere suspended in the air, and awesome chaos of frenetic movement (Hepler)

Portland-based artist Anna Hepler uses simple materials to create a body of sophisticated prints, drawings, and elaborate three-dimensional spatial constructs. Over the past ten years her artistic obsession with the movement of particles suspended in space has taken on impressive proportions. She works in a variety of media around the central concept of a swarm. Her sources of inspiration include ephemeral natural phenomena such as flocks of birds, fireworks, and dandelion whorls. Says Hepler, “perhaps these moments fascinate me because they reflect a psychological state of release that is captivating and challenging.” Hepler aims to capture the dynamic essence of the forms expanding, condensing and dispersing.

She combines the idea of the swarm with an interest in skeletal frameworks either from the natural or built environment. Hepler is interested in portraying fleeting moments of suspended or built geometries. By combining visually cohesive forms, such as the oval or the sphere, and filling them with chaotic structures, Hepler takes on the duality she sees in nature’s systems. She is interested in such visually cohesive forms that nevertheless contain a chaotic structure–tangles of thread, electronic circuitry, swarms of insects in flight. “There is something terrifying about their massive intricacy and something beautiful in the rhythms of their minute and repetitive detail.”

Arrest, Array, installation view, Open Satelite, Bellevue, WA

The resulting visual investigation is incredibly elegant and filled with a peaceful, Zen-like energy. “ My work has always had a quiet aspect to it,” affirms Hepler, “There is almost nothing more restful than the perfect circle. The sphere is one of those perfect forms that allows you to appreciate chaos without being overwhelmed because you’re constantly held in stillness by the overall shape.” The work is quiet and apparently orderly in its overall form, but on close inspection reveals distortion and restlessness in its detail. The stillness is thus juxtaposed with a charged energy.

Dense and intricate, Hepler’s work evolves as a series of related elements. The imagery is primarily abstract, though she thinks of it as a kind of ‘reductive realism’ – that is, the images and sculptures are based on real and observed visual phenomena. Often she begins a new body of work with a sculptural prototype that becomes the subject of possible drawings, prints or photographs and culminates as a sculptural installation. For Intricate Universe, the artist will present three interconnected bodies of work: Projection Rooms, a group of three small dioramas, a selection of woodcuts from the 'Wolfecut' series, and a site-specific sculptural installation ARREST, ARRAY. The dioramas, woodcuts, and installation all describe, in different ways, the fleeting geometry of a flock as it is suspended in air.