East City Art Reviews—Anne Marchand Moments of Grace

By Claudia Rousseau, Ph.D. on September 17, 2021
Anne Marchand, Moments of Grace, The Silva Gallery, installation, left hand wall.  Photo courtesy Latela Curatorial.

Eight abstract paintings by DC artist Anne Marchand are now on view at Silva Gallery. The new exhibition space was the result of a collaboration between Latela Curatorial and the Silva DC, a brand new apartment development in Adams Morgan.  Located within the Silva’s large reception area, the viewer will be greeted by a brightly lit gallery which Latela curator and director Marta Staudinger has opened with the intention of providing new opportunities for local artists in the Washington DC region.  It will be available to walk-ins seven days a week.

It was especially fitting that the inaugurating exhibit here should feature new works by Anne Marchand who has maintained a studio in the DC area for decades.  Her work has continued to evolve and develop as she continues to explore a thread of ideas inspired by her fascination with the mysteries of deep space, the exploration of space and the new understanding of the immense beauty of the natural systems of our planet that being in space looking back has given us.  In her work of the past couple of years she has explored these connections to the inner spaces of our bodies and spirits.  A deeply spiritual person, she has also been inspired by the poetry of the 13th century mystic Persian poet Rumi, as well as by world mythology about creation and the ancient figure of the Great Mother.  Her solo exhibit this past spring at the Woman’s National Democratic Club was titled Tellus/Caelus: Seeing Earth and Sky—a title that, as curator of that show, I developed in collaboration with the artist to convey her new aim at expressing a vision of both the sky and the earth in her abstractions.  I explained the origin of the reference with the following:

Tellus is the most ancient Roman goddess of the Earth.  Servius (4thC AD) calls her “guardian deity of Earth and by extension, the globe itself”.  Her consort is the sky god Caelus, whose name means the heavens or the starry sky. [1]

In the months since, Marchand has continued these interests, but has turned to greater emphasis on the earth and the body.  In the paintings exhibited at the Silva this has taken the form of adding geomorphic forms to the expressive pouring of paint that she manipulates to suggest the patterns that appear on the surface of the planet when seeing it from low-orbit spacecraft.  Geo-metry, as defined in the dictionary, derives from ancient Greek meaning “to measure the earth” which was understood as spherical as early as the sixth-century BC.  Geo-morphic has similar origins: “as relating to the form of the earth or a celestial body (as the moon) or its surface features.”  This inspiration felt like a given to the artist, an unexpected gift, a “moment of grace”—hence the title of the current exhibit.

 

Anne Marchand, Tangent, 36” x 36”, acrylic enamel, Ink, on canvas, 2021.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

To see this, we can begin with Tangent. A 36” square, as are all the paintings, it has a dynamic energy that makes it seem like a detail of a larger image.  Painted in primary colors, which dominate in these works, their brilliance aids that sense of movement that is described in the curving forms swinging against each other, just touching as a “tangent” in geometry.  A circular form below right is applied to the surface, as are the other curves.  The curves and the movement are directly inspired by the circular and curved shapes that are visible on the surface of the earth.  Just to remind the reader of what that looks like, here’s a view taken by Apollo17:

Earth seen from Apollo 17, “The Blue Marble”, taken December 7, 1972.  It was the first photo of the whole round Earth. It shows the continent of Africa. Public domain, Wikimedia.

One of the most complex and interesting of the paintings, in formal terms, is Secret Place. 

 

Anne Marchand, Secret Place, 36×36, acrylic enamel, ink, fabric, thread on canvas, 2021.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Its dark forms stand out among the very bright colors of most of the others in the show.  Marchand’s layering technique is a process that sometimes produces surprises.  In this work she has used a large amount of ink that she has allowed to flow into a form on the left that almost looks like a horse’s head (there’s a famous nebula with that name/shape), while the dynamic splay of the other dark forms move in shifting planes of space.  The ring of dots near the shell-like series on the right looks like stars.  All this suggests that Marchand’s outward look at deep space still comes out—even unexpectedly as in this case. The painting also includes some other media, including two patches of Indian silk (one is in the center), as well as thread and applied acrylic shapes.

Directly across from this painting on the opposite wall is This Turning.  Also featuring a large black curve, the rest of the composition is more open than most of the others.  However, on the lower left is some automatic writing that looks like Persian script.  The story about how that happened is worth quoting:

The script came about through an automatic writing session in my studio.  The stenciled result [on the painting] is reminiscent of Persian calligraphy.  The title of this work, This Turning, references a Rumi poem, “Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you…
This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.” [2] 

 

Anne Marchand, This Turning, 36 x 36, acrylic enamel, burlap, ink, marker, on canvas, 2021.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Visiting this show and taking the time to contemplate each of the paintings, giving it time to unfold its layers and forms, can be a profound experience.  Marchand’s technique, while highly expressive and gestural, is driven by a sense of connection to all the forces, spiritual and natural, mentioned above.  It is also experimental, and that quality of the unexpected is especially attractive.  As Staudinger has written of them, “they summon the visual vibration of the eye of the viewer, along with their sense of wonder, introspection and imagination.”

Moments of Grace: Anne Marchand, The Silva Gallery, 1630 Columbia Road, NW, Washington DC, 20009.  A public reception is scheduled for the artist on Thursday, September 23rd at 6PM.

Gallery Hours are as follows:
Monday-Saturday 10AM – 5PM
Sunday 12-5PM.

Visit the website at  www.latelacuratorial.com, email at studio@lateladc.com or call 202-340-3280.


[1] From the brochure to the exhibit.  WNDC, Feb. 25-May 18, 2021.

[2] Personal communication with the artist.

Thumbnail image: Anne Marchand, Resonance, 36×36, acrylic enamel, glass beads, audio tape, thread on canvas, 2021.  Photo courtesy of the artist.