Plush Vision, the first UK solo show by Anna Betbeze (b.1980, Mobile, AL) will feature a series of new works made especially for the Mayfair gallery. The New York-based artist has forged a reputation for works that involve experimentation and unlikely materiality. Using handmade Greek wool rugs known as ‘flokati’ in lieu of canvases, Betbeze submits their plush and shaggy expanses to a host of degradations, arriving at textural works that are remnants of often violent, external processes.
The title Plush Vision refers to a tangled sensory experience, which Betbeze describes as “when seeing becomes breathing, stroking, tasting, and sound – often simultaneously.” By invoking the visual, the tactile, and the auditory, these paintings offer viewers a place to commingle with their unfiltered desires. The works in Plush Vision were made in the backyard of Betbeze’s childhood home in Georgia. Betbeze burns, dyes, cuts, folds, sews, and saturates the wool, charting an auto-destructive path for art-making that remains outside of the artist’s control. Contrasting with the pristine gallery space, the works challenge the notion that artworks appear “at home” in their exhibition surrounding. Instead, they make visible and insist upon the ethos of their creation. The paintings hold evidence of collapsed time, perhaps evoking a remnant, a ruin, a garden, or a home.
The artist mines material signifiers of time through her explorations of the painting’s surface. Through a ritualistic process that involves burning in the outdoors, she inscribes into the wool flokati the environment of their making. While they engage with the history of abstract painting, Betbeze’s works – created without the use of a brush, or canvas, or stretcher – simultaneously hark back to parallel histories of tapestry-making, functional design and the psychological underpinnings of the abject or formless object.