Anne Forest (1983, Dutch/American, born in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and the Royal Academy of Art, living and working in Utrecht):
In my work I explore the contrast between the static and the dynamic. While the imagery in my colorful, portrait-like paintings of people and creatures may be rigid and unrelenting, I always strive to make work in which tactility also plays a big part. I find and create unconventional surfaces that are usually quite coarse, and when I do paint on a more traditional, smooth surface, the painterly qualities play a major role in the final work. This enables me to convey the creative process in a way that is as raw and open as possible. Sharing this process with the viewer is essential for me, because it is through both the process and the final image that I reveal myself.
My diligent style stems from my upbringing, during which I was surrounded by Russian Orthodox icons. I appropriate this art form by creating my own world, one that is inhabited by totemic figures.
In addition to these formal aspects, I immerse myself in the function that icons serve: the interaction between believer (the viewer) and saint (the figure portrayed), and how I can implement this within my own more earth-bound work.
Besides icons, I also draw inspiration from Baroque and Renaissance portraiture. I often use works from these movements as a jumping-off point, mainly by zeroing in on body language, clothing and everyday objects.
But it's the stoic potency and the references to hierarchy that especially interest me and incite me to peel away the layers and reveal the hidden worlds behind the faces portrayed.
Marc Mulders, January 2017:
"Anne Forest makes intriguing paintings of human-like animals and animal-like humans: paintings, that is, of ourselves, portraits of what it means to be human.
Her work reflects the way we behave within the various spheres of innocence and foolishness, but also those of seduction and manipulation. As an artist, she creeps into the mixed psyche of man and beast in the best tradition of allegory and fable. Her paintings are not only splendid and enticing in terms of their brushstrokes, but they are also enticingly manipulative and disturbing in the grimace and gaze that greets us as viewers.
I am extremely fond of German artists like Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach, and Forest’s work reminds me of Cranach. Forest studies the work of the Old Masters, the poses of seventeenth-century aristocrats. There the focus is very much on the ‘intimidating look’ of the person being portrayed and on his status, depicted in a somewhat artificial pose, the purpose being to extort the intended ‘win factor’ from the viewer. In the work of Anne Forest, however, this intimidating look of the person being portrayed is replaced by a timid glance; there is often a shyness, even a woundedness to be discerned ... it is indeed an ‘ecce homo’ for 2017.
In terms of brushstrokes her work is a kind of ‘Expressionism at rest’. It is certainly expressive, not so much in the classical sense of a brushstroke as a ‘wildly executed gesture’ but a brushstroke whose well-considered, methodical approach exudes a tranquillity that actually contributes to an oppressive atmosphere."