Body of work — Anne Minich at Hooloon Art

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[Kelly reviews subtle body portraits by artist Anne Minich, whose focus on the secret beauty of the human form has lasted more than three decades. — the artblog editors]

Don’t go see Then and Now at Hooloon Art with your grandma, or on a first date. See it with someone who isn’t afraid of a little nudity, because you’ll see a lot of exposed and shameless body parts. Anne Minich’s drawings expertly draw our attention to curves or shapes, as showcased in “Template” and “Thing,” and give us permission to scrutinize an object instead of a vulnerable human.

Drawing out shapes and lines

Drawing
“Red Line” (2014), Anne Minich, graphite and colored pencil. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Noting the title, “Red Line,” I turn to the work searching for the red line…and I can’t decide which one Minich wants me to notice. I speculate to her silently. First, perhaps because they are something I would relate to pain or bondage, I see the red lines around your torso, seemingly wrapped so tightly with string that it cuts into you and makes your skin red. These lines are similar to the lines of your too-small underwear, which draw my eye to the most vibrant red line outlining the shadows between your legs. Only now do I realize there is yet another, darker red line along the edge of the background, which my eyes avoided until I’d scrutinized every inch of your body without your permission, without feeling intrusive.

Drawing
“Template” (2013), Anne Minich, graphite and watercolor. Photo courtesy of the artist.

I think Minich crops out any identifiable body parts or faces to interact with from her work to allow us this freedom to gawk. It would be nearly impossible to see the degree of pure beauty in shapes and lines that she leads us to see in the human form without this disconnect from the human we are looking at.  She turns the work into an object instead of a person, whom we could relate to feeling shy, reserved, or shamed by being stared at while naked.

Becoming privy to intimate moments

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“Bleeker and Charlton, NYC” (1978), Anne Minich, graphite and colored pencil. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Minich again uses color to draw the viewer’s eye to the organic shape that captured her interest in “Bleeker and Charlton, NYC,” as if we could notice anything else first. The rest is just scenery. Her point of view invites us into the scene like we are lying in bed with this couple, not intruding on a private moment. We are allowed to gaze at the way lines and shapes interact, the way skin likes to relax and droop just like blankets.

In all the work in this show, Minich showcases the beauty of pieces of the body interacting with each other…the way our intimate bodies are beautiful, despite the embarrassment we sometimes feel.

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“Thing” (2012), Anne Minich, graphite, colored pencil and collage. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Her earlier drawings give more consideration to quality of lines and shading, while the most recent embrace a graphic quality, which makes the lines and shape all the more powerful. In “Thing,” she pulls a shape in shadow from a woman’s back and underwear line and redraws it above. Without the body, it isn’t recognizable as a shape defining an intimate body part—but with the prior knowledge, it is clear: shapely, beautiful…and secret.

These drawings are spread over 45 years, but have a strikingly constant style, which in itself is something amazing to see. Minich must really be taken by the beauty of the human form, and she takes us along with her to see what she sees in this brazen show.

Then and Now: Drawings of Anne Minich is on display at Hooloon Art from August 13, 2014 – September 21, 2014.  Artist reception, including performance by Patricia Brace, on Saturday, September 13, 6 pm – 9 pm.

Tags

anne minich, art & culture, hooloon art, philadelphia, then and now

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