From Hyperallergic - Angels, devils, dragons, and monsters are just a few of the unruly creatures that maraud across Anna Torma’s delightfully chaotic textiles. The Hungarian-Canadian artist’s multicolored, swirling scenes are filled with semi-clothed human-animal crossovers tangled together in curious acts of sex and mischief. Inspired by fairy tales, children’s drawings, Hungarian folklore, and medieval legends, Torma’s playful, hand-sewn worlds present an especially engrossing escape from the bleakness of everyday pandemic life.
Torma was born in 1952 in Tarnaörs, a village in northern Hungary. Her first contact with art came from her parents: her father painted landscapes and still lifes when he wasn’t farming, and her mother and grandmothers taught the young artist regional needleworking techniques used to prepare a young woman’s bridal trousseau. Torma’s facility with class drawing assignments and skill with sewing doll clothes were early signs of her artistic path. “I have always been smart with my hands,” Torma told Hyperallergic in a video call from her New Brunswick studio. Torma, whose sunny studio is filled with potted plants and piles of new works, is shy but quick to smile, and speaks in a soft, melodic voice.
For decades, Torma has collected found textile objects like crochet doilies, embroidery samplers, lace, appliqué, and fabric clippings. Some of her favorites appear in her Personal Ribbon (2020) series. In these works, textile objects like scraps of traditional Hungarian embroidery and a fabric photograph of the artist’s grandparents are arranged along strips of hemp cloth. Collectively, the sequenced artefacts form a sort of exhibition within an exhibition of the artist’s personal and material points of origin. Unlike her previous works, these place Torma’s biography at their center. “Activities with textile are always very personal,” the artist said, and with these works, “I invite you to my life in a private way.”