ALL: It has been a gradual move towards hard-edge abstraction, but I’m really pleased to find myself here. I follow the work and listen to my internal thought processes as I’m making. I’m enjoying playing with the language of hard-edge abstraction, particularly as it is known as being quite a male dominated field, historically. This new body of work came directly out of work where I was using text as a way to disrupt my painting and push the process forward. I am always keen to challenge myself and respond to the environment I find myself in and any constraints attached to the work. I am searching for a powerful vibration or some sort of reverberation when I paint, and the power dynamic created by colour, line and shape allows me to navigate many of the deep-rooted influences that shaped my experience in the world.
ALL: Ha! Yes, boundaries were definitely something that has been on my mind. I found lockdown to be somewhat comforting in that I was already processing grief and loss and it felt like everyone joined me in this space. My work is deeply personal and autobiographical, but I am reluctant to give out the details. I’d much rather leave this as a space for others to explore. I use the language of painting as a way to signal meaning. This body of work has got me somewhat closer to where I want to be; in that it deals succinctly with what concerns me. Maybe, one day I will be happy to reveal the more personal information, but for now I want the work to leave you with a tremor or an aftershock that maybe invites you to take another look and work it out yourself.
ALL: Yes. Painting is definitely a practice I need. I’m less good at meditation! Painting for me is a way of channelling an excess of energy that if left unchecked could be dangerous! So, I guess, much like mediation, I imagine, it’s a practice that you learn to move and shape and control.
ALL: What was interesting to me with this body of work was that it definitely came from a different space in my body, and this also influenced the music playing in the studio. I think I allowed new music in much more, I wasn’t trying to access the angry energy of my youth, I wasn’t looking backwards: I’m looking forwards. I found myself listening and making in a different way that feels more sustainable and less exhausting.
ALL: It was a moment of emancipation doing my MA. It was such a different experience to my BA, which was just a continuation of school. I wasn’t consciously engaged with what I was doing at that time. I think I’m quite a late bloomer and didn’t have much of an idea of how I wanted to navigate the world and found that I was reduced to constantly reacting. My MA saved me in so many ways. I got a full scholarship, so that was a confidence boost and it was a lifeline from struggling as a single mum. I was fully engaged and found that everything mattered. I painted through myself both psychologically and physically. It allowed me to process a whole heap of shit that had been stored up in my body that needed to come out in one way or another.
As for advice for students, I think it’s hard to give a catch all piece of advice. What I learned on my own journey is that there is always a way to adapt and if you want to do it enough, you will do it. Oh, and challenge the state of quo: don’t take shit lying down!
Left: 'Night Follows Day', 2020, Oil, acrylic, mixed media on linen, 153 x 102 cm 'Nasty Girl', 2021, oil, acrylic, wax and marble dust on canvas, 153 x 102 cm.
Thank you to Anna Liber Lewis for participating in The Art Five, Issue 14.
Liber Lewis has work included in 'Landscape, Portrait: Now and Then' at Hestercombe Gallery, Taunton, in partnership with The Ingram Collection. Artists include Gilbert and George, Trish Morrissey, Andy Warhol, Jo Lathwood, Susie Olczak, Susan Derges, John Coplans, Sarah Lucas, Alek O and Jane Mowat, Ken Kiff, Patrick Caulfield, Derek Jarman, Claudette Johnson, Balraj Khanna, Leon Kossoff, Anna Liber Lewis, and two new contemporary ‘Bampfylde’ commissions.
London-based contemporary artist Anna Liber Lewis was given a full scholarship from The Genesis Foundation to study at the RCA and graduated with an MFA in 2015. She holds a BA from Central Saint Martins. In 2017 she won the Griffin Art Prize and the Young Contemporary Talent Prize supported by the Ingram Collection. Her first London solo show ‘Muscle Memory’ at Elephant West, 2018 was followed by a second solo show at The Lightbox, Woking where she was asked to respond to a piece from the Ingram Collection; she chose a work by Eileen Agar. Group exhibitions include Landscape Portrait: Now and Then; Redressing the Balance: Women Artists from the Ingram Collection; WIP at Camden Arts Centre Studio. Her work is held in many private collections both in the UK and Europe including the Miniature Museum in Amsterdam. annaliberlewis.com
All images courtesy of the Artist.