At the core of Anna K.E.’s diverse practice, which engages equally with sculpture, drawing, and video, is a desire to make spatial interventions, whether in the form of large-scale sculptures or the arrangement of shapes and colors on a piece of paper. K.E., who trained as a classical ballerina in her native Georgia, has an acute sense of space, of how a body or a thing interacts with an environment and the various permutations that ensue. For The car was his and story mine, her Lucky Weekend is a sculptural gesture meant to redefine one’s sense of the gallery’s space. The work plays with the gallery’s relation to the neo-classical pediment of the Bowery Savings Bank seen clearly from the gallery’s front windows. Roughly eight feet by twenty-five feet, Lucky Weekend consists of five interconnected panels covered with small bathroom tiles. Embedded within these glossy forms that allude in a low tech manner to the digital pixels that determine the contemporary representational world, are a series of abstract, ceramic shapes arranged to form a triangle—a nod to the looming pediment outside.
The formal elegance of Lucky Weekend develops a major theme in K.E.’s practice: the tension between potential and containment. K.E.’s composed ceramic shapes create a pictorial hierarchy in which colorful bursts of energy rush toward the structure’s top only to be constrained by the triangular outline. The palpable feeling of give and take is mirrored by another aspect of the piece: on the far right hand side, isolated on an expanse of tile, are unique posters made by artists of different generations. The individual posters — twenty-three in all — are on view for no more than a day or two. They are subsequently covered up with the next poster, creating a situation in which, much like the restricted crescendoing shapes to the left, the posters grow in size at the expense of the previous image.
Latent in all of K.E.’s art is a dark sense of humor that both ironizes the role of the artist and demystifies the auratic qualities of a work of art. In the video, Gloss of a Forehead (2012), K.E.—bent over with her pants dropped halfway, her naked posterior exposed—shuffles around her studio in a wonderfully poetic, Chaplin-esque dance. The decidedly strange video is an absurd send-up of the creative process, a sentiment matched by perhaps the most touching feature of Lucky Weekend. Behind the piece, attached to the supports of the large sheets of tile, are hooks for visitors to hang their jackets and umbrellas while viewing the show: the work of art as a mundane and useful object.
Anna K.E. was born in 1986 in Tbilisi, Georgia and lives and works in New York City and Germany. Selected solo shows include: Mannheimer Kunstverein, Mannheim, Germany (2012); Gallery Figge von Rosen, Cologne (2011); Kunstverein Leverkusen, Leverkusen, Germany (2011); Pilot Projekt, Düsseldorf (with Tamara K.E.) (2008); Schaufenster des Kunstvereins für die Rheinlande und Westphalen, Düsseldorf (2007). Selected group shows: The III Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow (2012); Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, Germany (2011); Gallery Barbara Thumm, Berlin (2010); Museum K21, Düsseldorf (2010); Young Biennale Köln 2010, Cologne (2010); Cobra Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2009); Kunstverein Ludwigshafen, Germany (2009); Neues Kunstforum Köln, Cologne (2009); Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken, Germany (2008); Gloriahalle, Düsseldorf (2008); Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund, Germany (2005); Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf (2005); Kunstverein Mönchengladbach, Germany (2005); and Museum Bochum, Germany (2004). In 2012 Hatje Cantz published Anna K.E.’s first monograph entitled A well-to-do man is cruising in his fancy car when a small hen runs out on the road in front.