Artist: Anastasia Bay
Exhibition title: Can’t Bust’em
Venue: Galerie Derouillon, Paris, France
Date: February 11 – March 13, 2021
Photography: Grégory Copitet / all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Galerie Derouillon, Paris
Anastasia Bay (1988) lives and works in Brussels. She studied fine art in Paris under François Boisrond. Using bold shapes and line she explores figurative painting, deploying themes from the classical canon; nudes and still lifes.
Anastasia Bay draws on a wide range of sources and extracts some of the ‘types’ that run through the history of representation.
So the first passage is one of transliteration, in which a set of visual codes is shifted to her own pictorial language. A drawing traced on carbon paper is then copied time and time again until the hand gets used to those lines, until the body has fully memorized those gestures and can apply them onto the surface of the canvas. Thin coats of paint and black pastel give flesh and volume to the bodies, while thicker strokes define the substance of the more opaque backgrounds. The game of transparencies that plays out between the different layers of pastel and paint not only keeps the process visible (including corrections), but also feeds into her rhythmic compositions. As signs of repeated gestures, the lines become traces of movement that open up the paintings to the dimension of time.
The temporal character of the work by no means excludes the artist’s attention to space. The canvas can enclose large -scale bodies, but it can also narrow down its focus to frame specific anatomical features. Eyes can be fierce, crying or ghostly. Anastasia Bay is constantly exploring different ways of treating the relation between the depicted bodies and their material support. She points to the materiality of the canvas when explaining how she applies paint on the back of the painting: “It’s like screen-printing,” she says. As it sinks into the fabric, the watery paint moulds itself into different textures within the painting’s colour field.