Anya Kielar's WOMEN at Rachel Uffner

If you've walked by Rachel Uffner this month, you've probably poked your head in. From the outside, Anya Kielar’s show of hanging screens (on view through October 21st) looks kind of like a staged birthday party, packed wall-to-wall with rows of colorfully-patterned traditional, folk, and tribal women. Inside, they give an ambience of passing through airy doors. - Whitney Kimball, NYC Contributor


Anya Kielar | Install shot | "WOMEN," 2012, all roughly 85 1/2 x 43 x 3 inches. Photo courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery.

They screens are extremely delicate. First impressions lead you between late 80s zig-zags and Vermont crafts fair. Kielar alternates between a custom Devore technique on velvet, painting on raw linen, and teasing and weaving burlap to make shadowy figures.

Like contemporary painters Nolan Hendrickson and Jutta Koether, she makes rhythmic use of expressionistic folk. Like those painters, too, she's in the groove. Some are dotted with swift brushstrokes, economical golds, and colored highlights; others are more electric, with an all-over drizzle.


Anya Kielar | Install shot | "WOMEN," 2012, all roughly 85 1/2 x 43 x 3 inches. Photo courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery.

The momentum's high by the time you notice that female bodies seem to be the only common thread. There's angst (woven heads with gaping mouths), birthing (pictures that focus on the breasts and womb), maiden (a girl with braids, wearing a pinafore), a talisman (what looks like a Native American version of the Venus of Willendorf, with a diamond-shaped mouth hole), Greco-Egyptian style portraits, and what I'd describe as "Whispering Wind Women" (New Age-y freehand drawings of female bodies with blowing hair, accentuating balance or flow).

Whispering Wind Woman et al don't fully describe actual women, and Kielar seems to note this. In each drawing, the style fits the reference, as if to suggest that the archetypes are limited packages for something more ephemeral. One less-placeable figure is simply a wiry collection of lines.

Or maybe we are asked to see ourselves here, each fragile screen a facet of the female experience. I'm not sure. In the end, the loving specificity with color, energy, and form gets muddled in the ecumenical subject. What about women? The question wouldn't irk if this show didn't bring us so close to the door.


Anya Kielar | Install shot | "WOMEN," 2012, all roughly 85 1/2 x 43 x 3 inches. Photo courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery.

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