Art & Photography / In Pictures

Meet the Californian Painter Replacing People with Plants

L.A.-based art collective Tappan presents Anna Valdez, whose vibrant paintings are still lifes for a modern age

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Anna Valdez
Artwork by Anna Valdez, Courtesy of Tappan

Bound by a search for creativity and authenticity, AnOther has partnered with L.A.-based art collective Tappan, an initiative that was born out of a desire to reinvent the experience of buying art, to share stories about its artists.

When prompted to describe her practice in three words, California-based artist Anna Valdez chooses “observational, frantic and anticipative” – and though the acts of slowly watching and rapidly creating might seem antithetical, they somehow come together in her vibrant, expansive works. Depicting bright, airy rooms, luscious greenery and careully arranged odds and ends, these canvases feel like Dutch still lifes for a new generation, in which each item is imbued with a powerful resonance. There is a meditative energy at play here, and it has everything to do with inanimate objects. 

It was a post-university return to California from Boston, where she studied for a degree in Anthropology, that saw Valdez’s renewed interest in working in still lifes and landscapes rather than with human subjects. “It’s not that I intentionally stopped painting the figure, I just didn’t feel the need to paint it,” she explains. “Most of the plants and tapestries act as surrogates for the figure in regards to form in a composition. I felt omitting the figure allowed more flexibility and room for invention through observation.” The greenery and tapestries Valdez mentions are central to her work; many of the depicted objects are mainstays in her studio, which she paints often due to a tendency to “reference my immediate environment, because I exist within that space and thus it contains collected thoughts, experiences and memories”.

The idea of personal experience is integral to Valdez’s practice, too; and it adds to the vivacious quality of her work. “Art, and particularly painting, seemed to open a door for me to explore ideas in an infinite way,” she says of why she decided to pursue painting as a career. “I find connection through painting because there really is not a right or wrong answer. It is based on experience.”

As is so often the case with paintings, Valdez’s work is best seen in person, and the opportunity to do so presents itself in June, when her solo exhibition opens at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco. “The exhibition is titled Works Sighted and is a nod to the concept of references as a still life painter,” Valdez details. “I am incredibly excited for the show and cannot wait to engage and participate in dialogue with my community through this exhibition.”

For more information on Anna Valdez, and to buy her works, visit TappanAnna Valdez: Works Sighted runs from June 3-24, 2017, at Hashimoto Contemporary, San Francisco.

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