Angela Grossmann: Alpha Girls
Diane Farris Gallery
Vancouver BC Oct 7-23, 2004
In a new series of forceful, narrative paintings, Vancouver artist Angela Grossmann again takes on issues of identity and recognition. Her previous shows placed sociological emphasis on people with little obvious value to society, like orphaned children and prisoners. Grossmann's new work, Alpha Girls, resonates with the affected and manipulative world of teen girls.
Angela Grossman, Anna (2004), oil mixed media on mylar, [Diane Farris Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Oct 7-23]
At the age of thirteen, generally the confidence of pubescent girls is low. Grossmann captures their sense of social anxiety and dislocation in a body of work as psychologically unsparing as her earlier series inspired by SARS, poverty and economic misfortune. From the convicts and orphans she rescued from anonymity, Grossmann turns her attention to young girls and their power structures in large paintings on raw, yellowing, unstretched canvases.
Grossmann sketches the bodies roughly, bruising the photo-transferred faces with chalky white and trailing the poses with slathered black smudges. Groups of figures huddle together like singular power entities. Against the rumpled canvases, their secretive and exclusionary faces tease the viewer while their body language conveys social position. The more minor girls, fawning and tentative, surround their alpha superiors. A darkness of spirit comes through in the almost skeletal frames and intense gazes.
Grossmann is known for her incorporation of abandoned objects and memorabilia in works densely layered with drawing, painting and mixed media. After earning an MFA at Concordia University and teaching at the University of Ottawa, Grossmann returned to Vancouver in 1996 to paint and to teach at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. As a mentor to young artists, she has a keen interest in their social milieu and psychological development.