Focusing on the use of specific painting techniques to capture something of the surface quality of flowing and falling water, Cool Water Woman by Auckland based artist Anya Henis also makes the most of the opportunity of subverting the presentation of what has become a potent associative trope as mobilised within high cultural and commercial realms alike.
Waterfalls, eddies and rippling pools all feature in this suite of works within which the artist has employed a variety of painting processes and textural effects to explore surface, and play on the way in which we view and experience two dimensional images.
Henis captures single moments of the shimmering effect and foam of waterfalls and the incredibly subtle tidal changes that create glistening alternations across any fluid surface. Yet, these static glimpses create an odd sense of disjuncture between our recognition of the subject of these painted works and fleeting nature of such moments in real life.
Also borrowing its title from a specific brand of perfume, Cool Water Woman also gestures towards the association of beauty and notions of the ‘feminine’ with the fluidity and flux of water. Playing so confidently with the associative potential of such disparate sources, Henis’ unusually process focused, meditative works might also be able to be read as a gentle satire of the legend of the birth of Venus, and all the painted reproductions that particular tale has spawned over the centuries.
Anya Henis graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland with a BFA in 2005. Recent exhibitions include: Jungle Television, Newcall, Auckland (2008); Forestaurant (group exhibition), City Art Rooms, Auckland and HSP, Christchurch (2007); The Abandonment of Splendid Speculation, Starkwhite (2006); Compelled (group exhibition), ARTSPACE, Auckland (2005). Henis lives and works in Auckland and is currently a Co-Director of the artist-run space A Centre For Art.