SALT LAKE CITY, UT- Anna Betbeze, winner of the 2017 Catherine Doctorow Prize for Contemporary Painting, will be featured in Dark Sun-a solo exhibition of Betbeze's artwork at Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) from September 22, 2017 through January 14, 2018.
Betbeze uses fire, water, acids and colorful industrial-strength dyes to create large-scale abstract paintings on wool rugs. With vivid hues and battered sculptural surfaces, Betbeze's works are layered and visceral. She describes this experience as "when seeing becomes breathing, stroking, tasting and sound-often simultaneously."
By using natural processes, Betbeze's work is a collaboration with nature-one where she establishes a starting point but accepts that eventually things will end up out of her control.
By exploring the dichotomies of abjection/beauty, abandonment/care and destruction/creation, each hide-like painting gives the viewer a sense that they were found in their decayed but colorful state rather than made, allowing them to fluctuate anachronistically between historical and contemporary.
Dark Sun also includes a new series of works on paper which continues her investigation of the inherent qualities of her materials. In this case, Betbeze explores the paper's rate of absorption through her use of saturated pigments, staining and layered media, illuminating Betbeze's thought process. The vibrant colors are applied as liquid pooling, covering and congealing into imagery that is just out of reach to the viewer.
Like the recent eclipse where the moon negated the sun, providing a moment of darkness and reflection on our relationship to light, Betbeze's paintings are born from a simulate negation. Using destruction as a force for creation, what remains are works that can be sensed and seen.
"I work with nature in that way-a collaboration," says Betbeze. "In the season of the eclipse when the sun is covered it provides a moment of negation of light, which becomes a time to reflect on light-in darkness. This also seems appropriate to the work, to work with negative forces in order to create something new from it. I work with negation, removal destruction, in order to create a reflection on the other. I think of the works as cosmological as well as ecological."
Jared Steffensen, curator of exhibitions, says, "UMOCA is honored to provide visitors the opportunity to view Anna's work in person. Her paintings are meant to be experienced rather than merely looked at from a distance-they implore the viewer to conduct an intensive investigation of their materiality, color and surface."
Dark Sun opens at UMOCA on September 22, 2017 with an opening reception from 7-9 p.m., and will be exhibited through January 14 in UMOCA's Street Gallery.