Ilona Anderson’s Curiosity about the Unfamiliar

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Arcology (detail), gouache and Lascaux Acrylics on archival papers, 59 x 95 inches, 2015.

This is a special post by our Intern, Lucky Li, a sophomore at Simmons College. Lucky helped install this exhibition by Ilona Anderson and agreed to take this opportunity to share her insights about the show. Read more about the show on our website, and you can follow Ilona Anderson on Instagram @ilonapainter.

Ilona Anderson’s solo exhibition, Arcology, is on view in our Main Gallery until November 1st. The main attraction of her exhibition is a sizable installation covering two connecting walls and measuring 59 by 95 inches, also titled Arcology. In this work, Anderson pieces together imaginative multimedia drawings, integrating figures, animals, and landscapes with mechanical and geometric structures.

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Arcology (detail), gouache and Lascaux Acrylics on archival papers, 59 x 95 inches, 2015.

Anderson’s curiosity for the world is reflected in her connected vignettes that challenge familiar constructs of space and place. They effortlessly flow from one to another along thin tracks that connect them, unpredictably veering off into new directions to unveil hidden dimensions. It’s unclear where one space ends and other begins, or if there are beginnings and endings at all. Her drawings seem to depict a world that boundlessly defies unchallenged rules of our reality.

Each vignette is so fresh and unique that they each have the ability to catch the viewer off-guard. In one vignette, one could find two figures depicted in the midst of a common activity such as racing up the stairs, and in the next, a figure with a deer-shaped wire mesh head holding onto a small giraffe and a zebra head mounted on a stick.

The vivid colors of Anderson’s drawings radiate a charged energy that grabs the viewer’s attention at first glance. Often unblended, the thoughtful progression from one color to the next has a dynamic quality, building momentum in her work as the entire piece flourishes. Her drawings seem to glow in juxtaposition to the matte black background, creating the illusion that they may come off the paper into the viewer’s space.

Arcology (detail), gouache and Lascaux Acrylics on archival papers, 59 x 95 inches, 2015.

Arcology (detail), gouache and Lascaux Acrylics on archival papers, 59 x 95 inches, 2015.

In the final line of her artist statement, Anderson remarks, “All phenomena…may evoke a sense of curiosity about the unfamiliar and an appreciation of the constant fresh new moment.” This was consistent with how I began to think about and see things after looking at her work. I immediately found an increased fascination for my surroundings. I felt awe-inspired by moments that previously seemed insignificant. My thoughts changed, reminding me of the fluidity with which Anderson links her vignettes together in Arcology. Her curiosity about the world so strongly shines through her work that saw it reflected in myself.

-Lucky Li

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Arcology (detail), gouache and Lascaux Acrylics on archival papers, 59 x 95 inches, 2015.

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