Anj Smith
British, born 1978
Blue chip
Represented by internationally recognized galleries.
Hauser & Wirth at Art Basel in Hong Kong 2018,
Hauser & Wirth
Anj Smith. If Not, Winter,
Hauser & Wirth

Anj Smith says she strives to “convey both the clumsy pointlessness of painting...and the inaccessibility of the heavens” in her magical-realist paintings. Her Old Master-style renderings of enigmatic female figures draped in finery amidst apocalyptic landscapes draw on 17th-century Dutch vanitas paintings, German Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach, and couture by Chanel and Comme des Garçons for inspiration. In R (2010), a Renaissance-proportioned portrait, the sitter’s lavish silk dress and blonde ringlets indicate a female identity, yet subtle masculine features—muscular, hairy arms, an outsized nose, a suggestion that the silky locks are actually sideburns—render the subject’s gender ambiguous. The work exemplifies Smith’s characteristic exploration of identity, eroticism, horror, and mortality within the context of today’s precarious world.

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