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'Ann Wood: Violent Delights'

A perfectly titled show that provides a vivid journey into the wood within the world

Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Oct. 26, 2012

<i>Cluster</i> by Ann Wood
Cluster by Ann Wood
Photo courtesy of Rachel Koper

'Ann Wood: Violent Delights'

Women & Their Work, 1710 Lavaca, 477-1064
www.womenandtheirwork.org
Through Nov. 17

Ah, here we go.

There's artwork where there's so much going on in the creations, so much evidence of the work having taken a lot of, well, work – time and effort and repetition – that the way it looks, what it depicts, almost doesn't matter: The sheer industry is sufficiently impressive.

Then there's artwork where the final result is the most impressive aspect, but getting there didn't require much in the way of physical exertion. Consider Banksy's best pieces: The genius is in the concept and simple boldness of the depiction; the effort of cutting a stencil and spraying it is negligible – especially in comparison to the collateral effort and stress of applying that awesome shit to urban walls without getting busted.

Here's Ann Wood with her "Violent Delights," and I'm glad to report that it's a perfect match of the two scenarios described above. Wood's two-dimensional depictions of woodland creatures in the throes of calamity or death are stunning from far away. Two deer dying together, bleeding from the head on the forest floor while crows wait to tear the softening flesh and bees bother the blood-pungent air; two wolves attacking a white hart in the midst of a flower-blooming copse; a hog, hog-tied, hanging from a bright ribbon while blackbirds bill and coo in the grass below.

These images are so big, you can feel their power across a room, but only when you draw near do you perceive that the animals are created through embroidery on the resin-coated canvas, that there are layers and complex embellishments to that colored resin, that the resin may be obscuring a strategically placed wallpaper below. Much time and effort and repetition has been spent to render these tableaux. There's not a thing about any of these works that isn't impressive and striking; even the frames are covetable.

Then there are the sculptures. Because Wood doesn't work in just two dimensions. Because the gallery floor bordered by these violence-improved walls isn't left void of meaning. The artist has taken life-sized, taxidermied animals – wolves, a deer, two entire horses – and arranged them into a scene of terrible beauty, covering them completely in what appears to be yellow cake frosting and rose after rose after rose after rose. There's a resinous analog to blood spilling beneath these animals, forming pools of static, shimmering ichor. There is everywhere a sense of enchantment, immediately below which lurks a deeper sense of mortality and general dread.

This is a show that's perfectly titled, comprising violent delights. This is a show for your eyes and heart to experience at least once. This is a vivid, unforgettable journey into the wood within the world.

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