Two-sided egg tempera paintings on panel hang upon a steel floor sculpture. The contraption stands like a weather vane. It points toward the drawing installation, Forever Turning Back. The paintings display map-like symbols, arrows, railway lines, and other two-dimensional pictographic shapes. She has built up a lexicon of codified symbols and arrangements of colours that she reuses in her compositions. This codification is untenable. Her work harkens back to artists like Forrest Bess, and Hilma Af Klint. Both who used abstraction as a way to discuss the in-between states of the physical and transcendental. The paintings work like sign posts for insular journeys. They are roadmaps for ineffable psychic spaces.
The new paintings are fastened with fabric bands upon their sculptural apparati. They beg to be grasped in human arms and moved around the room. They are made with egg tempera, a mode of painting that references early renaissance icons and frescoes. The process is achieved by using a mortar and pestle, raw pigments and fresh separated egg yolks to make the paste from which to paint. This material closeness is important. It provides a material specificity to the work that is rarely achieved in a time of manufactured paints. Vukovich has a keen interest in the interpretation and execution of colour. Colour as a material and a visual phenomena is one of the least controllable or interpretable aspects to painting. Vukovich's interest in painting from interest in unfixed states is supported by her use of rich varied handmade colour.
Forever Turning Back, a drawing installation, consists of a rearrangeable series of smaller pieces of paper scribbled with crimson, pink, cadmium red, and orange, pencil crayon. The marks laid down upon the vibrating expanses of colour are rapid, and hard. It reads as a pastoral field in movement. The paper shows between the strokes. This allows the entire periphery of gridded drawings to breathe and create optic distance. Similar to Sol Lewitt’s wall drawings, the paper is arranged on a grid and can be configured in any space. But here, her marks are fixed and it's the installer's arrangement that varies. She's more interested in the viewers authorship in looking than her position to direct them. She’s creating space to be explored instead of rules to followed.
She cites Tantric images from Rajasthan as a specific point of reference for the new imagery in this show. The tantric images are full of spiritual cosmology of signs that were used to guide those studying them. She is interested in this idea of spiritual or meditative utility in painting. So she produces open-ended guides as opposed to dogmatic rules. Vukovich trained as a classical violinist and cross-country skier during her formative years. Proficient at both, she gave them up to pursue her visual practice. Both of these activities laid a foundation for the idiosyncratic approach to her work. Like a skier she sites moving through space as a form of mediation and intrinsically linked to spiritual states. And similar to a score of music, and the tantric images, she provides a iconographic marked-out proposition to lead a viewer. Like roadmaps, or scores, her work is a device into internal perception.
Recognizing Vukovich's work as rearrangeable and open to interpretation is vital to understanding of her position. Although her work stylistically references German Modernism and other abstraction that may have had more absolutist and dogmatic rigidity, what differs is her adamant insistence on temporal unsteadiness. Discussing these new works, Vukovich described the compositions as visual models of internal weather. She explains that they are a visual representation of the spaces that you cannot record, like a subliminal sound. In a way, she’s trying to visually represent experiences of spaces that are felt, rather than seen. Her practice is in part as a surveyor of emotional space. She records the difficult to measure. Simultaneously she is creating new spaces to guide her viewers on a visual tour. Like a compass she leads loosely, not with an iron fist.
Anna-Sophia Vukovich (b. Calgary, AB) received a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in 2008, and a MFA from Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts in 2016. She has participated in solo and group exhibitions in Canada and the United states. Recent shows include “Apparitions,” FJORD, Philadelphia, PA; “End Times”, Dress Shop Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; “Hungry Hearts,” Invisible Dog, Brooklyn, NY; “28th CAG Gala,” Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC. Anna-Sophia has been awarded residencies at the Edward F Albee Foundation (2018), Wassaic Project (2017), Vermont Studio Centre (2016), and the Banff Centre for the Arts (2013). Publications include Friend of the Artist and Anti-Architecture a collaborative zine with Kara Walker. She has won several scholarships including the Diney Goldsmith Fellowship Award and a professional development award to the Joseph and Anni Albers Foundation. Anna-Sophia currently lives and works in New York, NY.