September 7 - October 30, 2021
Rachel Uffner Gallery is pleased to present Clean Linens, artist Anne Buckwalter’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. Visually distinguished by their flattened depictions of domestic interiors and arrangements of various personal objects, Buckwalter’s paintings incorporate floral textile patterns alongside the textures of wood grain and flannel. Within some of these cozy, nearly old-fashioned interior scenes, nude figures explore their bodies and sexual curiosities—sometimes together, sometimes alone.
In Sixty-nine (2021), the star-like arrangement of geometric shapes on a rug on the left side of the painting is visually mirrored by the shape of two intertwined bodies performing the namesake sex act on the right. This satisfying visual symmetry between the erotic and the domestic folds together wholesomeness and desire, comfort and titillation.
In their graphic representations of space and geometry-driven compositions, Buckwalter’s paintings draw upon the enduring influence of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art, a holdover from her childhood in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Hex signs, quilt patterns, and domestic crafts appear in multiple paintings. But conventional readings of these references to traditional lifestyles are often thrown askew, as in Gear (2021), in which Buckwalter shows the titular BDSM props—including gloves, a wig, and a paddle stamped with the letters XOXO—laid out neatly on a patterned bedspread. Instead of sensationalizing the appearance of these sex toys, however, the artist presents them matter-of-factly, as plain components of everyday life. By affording them the same visual attention as everything else in the painting, Buckwalter brings together multiple facets of lived experience and complex personhood into one image.
Four paintings in the exhibition, each titled with a different age, show arrangements of personal objects that were cherished by the artist at that time, employing anecdotal still life as a means of self-portraiture. As with Buckwalter’s efforts to transcend other perceived contradictions, these four paintings reveal the inseparability of childhood and adulthood, reconciling notions of eroticism and innocence. The markers of a young woman’s coming-of-age such as tampons and bloody underwear shown in other paintings are, in Self Portrait (Age 9) (2021), preceded by an arrangement of items including a copy of the book The Phantom Tollbooth, an Etch-a-Sketch, and a teddy bear, complicating ideas about femininity, girlhood, and the passage of time.
The relatively small scale of these paintings draws the viewer into intimate proximity, inviting close consideration of their details. In Clean Room (2021), for example, a hasty viewer could miss the ball gag on the table or the condoms on the dresser, seduced instead by the painting’s flat, pictorial tidiness. Buckwalter includes a painting-within-a-painting in Clean Room, a gesture that also occurs in other works throughout the exhibition. In addition to functioning as art historical references to Robert Mapplethorpe, Imogen Cunningham, and Egon Schiele, and others, these images-within-images insert the body into meticulous arrangements of objects and patterns. As with sex itself, human presence is not so much explicit in Buckwalter’s paintings as it is temperately implied.
Anne Buckwalter (b. 1987, Lancaster, PA) has been an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Hewnoaks Artist Colony, Galveston Artist Residency, and the Vermont Studio Center. She received a Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Grant in 2016 and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2021. Her work has been featured in New American Paintings, Create Magazine, and The Jealous Curator, and exhibited in Boston, Montréal, Toronto, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York, among other cities. Her writing has been published in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and Points in Case. She lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.