Thinking About “What One Is”

What One Is- Persian Palace

Image: Ilona Anderson, Persian Palace

Last Tuesday, the first of what will continue as Public Relations Hours (the next one will be May 28 from 2-4pm), I had the opportunity to see again the current exhibit, Ilona Anderson’s solo exhibit What One Is, up through June 2 at the Kingston Gallery.

My thoughts mimicked the work I was experiencing – here are some of them:

I keep thinking about Guston. Phillip Guston and his remarkable mark making, at once robust, awkward and perfect.

The overall gesture of the installation is both obsessive and delicate.

Thinking about theater – the drawing installation in the space of the gallery is like an unfolding proscenium.

The color black and the black of the paper – a curtain drawn back – revealing.

Reminded of William Kentridge – not only as a fellow South African artist but also for his love of and relationship to theater.

Thinking about dreaming, the work dreaming of itself.

The narrative unfolds and then folds back on itself.

Up close – many of the repeated images are exquisite.

The everyday turned inside out.

The reoccurring images:

Reclining female figures, their hair becomes chains

Tree stumps

Sleeping figures


The zebra, sometimes two zebras

Tilted disembodied heads atop female figures

Plumbing and wooden elements, painted with florescent paints – their nuances missed from a distance

Ladders, so many references:

Link between this world and the one beyond

Between consciousness and unconsciousness

Between now and the past

Ladders leading someplace, leading nowhere

Passages where the work leaks out – onto the wall.

Breaking the fourth wall – in theater what separates the audience from the physical stage, that leap of faith.

The work contains so many ideas/images – sometimes it does not contain them.

The artist seems to say, this is just paint, just material.

She pushes against the constraints of what she has set for herself in the space, urging the work to become unconstrained by those geometric shapes.

The drawings want to exit.

Move beyond the limitations of the edges of the support.

Engage the architecture of the room completely.

A leap of faith.

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