Translating The Visual Culture of Patterns: Recent Works by Anna Kincaide

JoAnne Artman Gallery
Jul 28, 2022 2:54PM

Anna Kincaide’s newest works evoke feelings of nostalgia and familiarity, but most of all, her bold compositions pull the curious viewer closer to the canvas. Upon first glance, Kincaide proves that she is not afraid of intense color and contrast. The viewer might be reminded of medieval tapestry, The Unicorn in Captivity, or the energetic portraits by Kehinde Wiley, who was commissioned for President Barack Obama’s presidential portrait. Wiley also opts for bold colors that immediately catch the viewer’s eye and emphasize the subjects of his paintings, while the background design in the Unicorn Tapestries functions as both pattern and setting.

Yet, Kincaide’s work feels most closely related to the wallpaper designs of British artist and textile designer William Morris. Although one might assume that traditional floral patterns similar to Morris’ would distract from Kincaide’s personality as it manifests on the canvas, they actually have the opposite effect. Kincaide sends an electrical current through Morris’ timeless floral prints by contrasting a muted classical pattern with her pumped up colors.

Anna Kincaide
Make Me Believe, 2022
JoAnne Artman Gallery

William Morris, Marigold, 1875

This intricate web of flora in her backgrounds set the rhythm of the piece as upbeat and kinetic. Kincaide’s repetitive patterns serve to push the subjects forward rather than distract from their presence. This, in tandem with the anonymity of the women she depicts, creates a feeling of intrigue, inviting the viewer, who is begging to know more, closer. While Kincaide incorporates these patterns, and numerous other art historical and fashion references in her work such as fashion photography, illustration, as well as the idea of the portrait bust or silhouette, it is the defining separation between the body and mind that creates the central theme in her work. Ultimately, this push and pull effect binds the traditional with the contemporary, and the physical world to the psyche.

William Morris, Larkspur, 1874

Anna Kincaide
Back to Life, 2022
JoAnne Artman Gallery

Anna Kincaide, Waiting on Some Better Days, Oil & Mixed Media on Canvas, 60 x 48 in, 2022. JoAnne Artman G

William Morris, Chrysanthemum, 1877

Morris’ legacy and his contributions to design were so influential because of his unconventional use of, what were, at the time, bold colors in wallpaper, as well as a new sense of individuality in his own artistic preferences. Kincaide channels this same notion of unconventionality and takes it one step further. Previously, Kincaide had constructed her backgrounds in monochrome colors that provided ample space for the subjects of her paintings. In her recent work, however, Kincaide turns up the volume in the background and leans into Morris’ unorthodox spirit by creating pressure between the subject and its setting. On the same note, Morris leaned away from contemporaneity, modern convention, and industrialism, and instead spearheaded a return to the classical. Kincaide also seems to look to the past, but does not completely turn her back on what she knows and modernity. As a result, her paintings inhabit two points in time, and rather than back away from the inherent tension created by this simultaneity, Kincaide commits to it.


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JoAnne Artman Gallery