Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, defines “yes” as a function word. Meaning, one that establishes grammatical relationships between words, rather than content. Thus, if function is a form of process, then Reed Anderson’s work is the acme of yes. It consists of two resplendent bodies of work that appear under the title House of Yes. They showcase Anderson’s interest in embodied forms of production, using his hand to cut, paint, fold and layer stunningly beautiful works on paper. His work is very much part of the expanding practice of artisanal concerns evident in such museum shows as Labour and Wait at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 2013 and Fiber: Sculpture 1960-Present, currently at the ICA/Boston.
The rich materiality of Anderson’s work on paper accrues its presence through an accumulation of acts. After screen or woodblock printing sections of mostly primary colors, he cuts out hundreds of circular openings ranging in size from the head of a pin, to a standard hold punch, to the top of a soup can. He then folds and repaints or stamps pigment through the holes, allowing the blots and Baechleresque squishes to remain.
Given Anderson’s skilled use of line, edge, shape, and color it’s obvious he has formal facility. But in permitting “mistakes” to remain, he builds up a history and creates pentimento, giving his work an undeniable visceral charge. This also suggests that he doesn’t want to know what his next move or line will be and that he embeds himself within the making of the work.
Anderson draws upon a variety of sources. One body of work uses floral imagery to suggest bouquets or mandalas or muddied pieces of scherenschnitte, the Swiss folk art of paper cutting. I am also reminded of the late cut paper paintings of Irene Pijoan (1954-2004) who taught at the San Francisco Art Institute, and where Anderson received his undergraduate degree. Like Pijoan, Anderson offers generosity and respect for the power of formal craft. The flower pieces are unbridled odes to beauty and the ceremonial rituals of birth, death and achievement.
Another group of work, from Anderson’s ongoing project The Papa Object, is based on images appropriated from fine art and furniture auction catalogues. Anderson grew up with art and antiquities in his family home. But rather than reject the materialism of these objects, he uses them as a springboard for layered works that refer to African textiles, Russian Constructivism, Modernism and decorative arts. There is also a performative component to this work. Some of it has been installed in private homes, offices, and even a research vessel in Antarctica, for the express purpose of being photographed in place. These multiple references, along with Anderson’s reproduction of reproductions, create emblems for endless scenarios about art, craft, commerce, trade, decoration, culture and history.
Reed Anderson: House of Yes @ Gallery 16 through December 31, 2014.
About the Author:
Julia Couzens is a Sacramento-based artist and writer whose work has been widely shown, most recently at the di Rosa Preserve. Her drawings and hybrid objects are in museum and public collections throughout the U.S. These include the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts; Berkeley Art Museum; Oakland Museum; Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina; and Yale University. She lives and works on Merritt Island in the Sacramento River delta.