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March 2021

Anna Torma

Anna tormaFrom 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.”

 

 


Betye Saar

Betye saarAssemblage artist Betye Saar creates a new, mystical world in her work.

"There has been an apparent thread in my art that weaves from early prints of the 1960's through later collages and assemblages and ties into the current installations. That thread is a curiosity about the mystical. I am intrigued with combining the remnant of memories, fragments of relics and ordinary objects, with the components of technology. It's a way of delving into the past and reaching into the future simultaneously. The art itself becomes the bridge. Curiosity about the unknown has no boundaries. Symbols, images, place and cultures merge. time slips away. The stars, the cards, the mystic vigil may hold the answers. By shifting the point of view an inner spirit is released. Free to create," noted Betye Saar in 1998.

In Betye Saar’s work, time is cyclical. History and experiences, emotion and knowledge travel across time and back again, linking the artist and viewers of her work with generations of people who came before them. This is made explicit in her commitment to certain themes, imagery, and objects, and her continual reinvention of them over decades. “I can no longer separate the work by saying this deals with the occult and this deals with shamanism or this deals with so and so…. It’s all together and it’s just my work,” she said in 1989.1

Saar grew up in Los Angeles and Pasadena, California, and studied design at the University of California, Los Angeles—a career path frequently foisted upon women of color who were interested in the arts, due to the racism and sexism prevalent in universities at the time. Saar eventually studied printmaking, and her earliest works are on paper. Using the soft-ground etching technique, she pressed stamps, stencils, and found materials into her plates to capture their images and textures. Her prints are notably concerned with spirituality, cosmology, and family, as in Anticipation (1961) and Lo, The Mystique City (1965).


Erro

The acclaimed artist Erró (b. 1932) is considered one of the leading figures in European Pop-Art. During his long and successful career he has delved into diverse subjects in his paintings, often using an overflow of images to reflect on contemporary society of consumption, in addition to references to various political current issues.

From early on Erró was inspired by technology and science, creating works where the human and the mechanic are combined. In particular he examined how technology invades the body and how the human body adapts to the machine. The images offer questions concerning the borderlines between human beings and technology. Are these borderlines perhaps no longer there when human existence is tied to the mechanic and the very identity a collage of various technological creations, an hyperreal presence in social media, drugs cooked up in laboratories, smart-gadgets assembled in factories, the trace of chips in credit cards. The human being has become a cyborg, whether we like it or not.

The exhibition Cyborg gathers together artworks that reflect these ideas in various ways. The word is a combination, a collage of the words ‘cybernetics’ and ‘organism’. In 1960, when scientist were thinking up a new type of astronaut, the phrase ‘cybernetic organism’ was considered cumbersome. As a result it was shortened, cut and pasted into one handy word, ‘cy-borg’. At the same time these scientist where working on the technology behind the cyborg, Erró was working on art works focusing on the interaction between machines and people, often by creating a collage with people – usually women – and various machines.

The collage is very well suited to the cyborg, as the cyborgs very existence is dependent on compositions and excess. The cyborg is always a collage of some kind, de-formed and a combination of diverse images from art and toys. Even though it is already here, it is still being created and is continually changing. Many of the pieces are already here, but they keep being arranged in new ways – in addition new pieces are continually made.

Erró is an artist of the collage. Combinations characterize his work, and collages are the raw materials behind his paintings. The collages bring together different and similar objects and are always marked by an excess of some kind. Excess is also a symptom of the cyborg, it is always too much, something added, de-formed, integrated and transformed. The cyborg‘s collage shows us the familiar in a new light and makes it unfamiliar, until we grow used to it – or not.

Erro