DANGXIA Art Space is pleased to present Bird’s Eye View, a solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Anna Valdez. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in China. Bird’s Eye View will be on view from September 15 through December 15, 2023.
Bird’s Eye View features paintings and ceramics depicting maximalist compositions of large still life arrangements that explore how objects form culture and make meaning. Valdez rearranges her growing collection of natural and human-made objects in endless permutations in her studio in Los Angeles. Plants and flowers, shells and corals, semi- precious rocks, animal bones, taxidermized birds and small stuffed mammals, paintings and photographs, ceramics made by the artist, antique vases, books about art and milkcrates to carry them in, textiles and rugs—objects are never deaccessioned and parts of her studio often resemble a small natural history museum.
Collection and observation delight Valdez as much as painting or working with clay. As she plans compositions from grouped items, new narratives arise. Considering the cultural or personal significance of objects as well as tactile qualities like color and texture, objects are positioned to tell stories. “My paintings are like contemporary versions of cabinets of curiosity, presenting viewers with a visual feast of carefully chosen objects and arrangements.” First appearing in 16th century Europe, the cabinet of curiosities, or wunderkammer, is a predecessor of the modern museum. Ranging from portable cabinet to enormous chamber, cabinets of curiosity housed animal, plant, and mineral specimens, ethnographic artifacts, religious relics, antiquities, and oddities from around the world. Cabinets were expressions of pleasure and power that inspired philosophical musing and scientific study — a microcosm of the world that alluded to greater cosmic truths.
Valdez’s new paintings are some of her densest yet. Objects are cozy, placed in close proximity, with patterned fabrics covering most vertical and horizontal surfaces underneath and behind objects. Large speckled or striped leaves interrupt space from the edges of canvases, inviting viewers to peek from one layer through to the next. Detailed, verdant, abundant, and saturated, Valdez strikes a balance between order and chaos. As the collection grows, objects are painted again and again. Valdez finds a variety of ways to render an object in paint, which can signify the passage of time or help differentiate between two representations of the same idea. Strategies of pattern, repetition, and reproduction are particularly evident in Valdez’s ceramics, which can echo preexisting objects or offer portals into paintings. The imagery found on her vases wraps completely around the surface, forming 360 degree scenes. Despite their simplicity in form, the complex painted imagery encourages the exploration of multiple visual access points and the discovery of various uses from a single object.
Many of Valdez’s works feature landscapes in the form of landscape paintings or photographs from national parks or botanical gardens, with bouquets, houseplants, rocks, and animals offering additional segues to the natural world within hybrid spaces. Valdez uses taxidermized birds as avatars for the human figure, full of symbolism and subjectivity. In Bird’s Eye View, Valdez offers multiple perspectives as the natural world is woven into the rich tapestry of art and cultural history, encouraging viewers to contemplate the interconnectedness of life and the depths of human experience.
This exhibition has been organized in collaboration with Los Angeles-based art consultant, Irina Stark.