MUNTHE ART MONDAY: ANNA-LISE HORSLEY
Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do
My name is Anna-Lise Horsley. I am half Norwegian but have spent most of my life in the UK. I studied Fine Art at Liverpool College of Art, Goldsmiths College London, and The Royal Academy of Art Copenhagen. I have worked in studios in New York, London, Budapest, Norway and France. My current studio is in a wild part of Norfolk, close to the North Sea. I have exhibited in Britain, USA, France, Scandinavia and Hungary. My works are held in corporate and private collections worldwide.
Firstly, I would like to say that Munthe Art Monday is a great idea!
I find it difficult to write about my own work and I am not keen on ‘art speak’. I suppose my attitude to my artwork is definitely an escape from the ‘real’ world. Painting is what I have to do to be myself. I feel lucky to have my own space. The term I use to describe my painting is Bio-abstraction. I am trying to uncover energies for which we do not have words.
An animated and enjoyable conversation I had recently at one of my exhibitions was with a Scientist. We chatted for a while about Art and Science. I explained to him that sometimes my work was like a Petri dish in the sense that a substance could accidently fly into it causing an unexpected discovery. But obviously not as earth shattering as the discovery of penicillin!
I sometimes think my process is a bit like mining. I work every day. Go down the tunnel and eventually you might find a diamond. I play a lot in my work but also take risks and frequently destroy elements. It has to feel like a risky adventure. I work on several pieces at the same time so that ideas can fly around in a free and unrestricted way. I am interested in discordant space and incompatible imagery. Nature is important to me in the sense that I look at the natural order and create my own unnatural disorder. Each painting should have something new, usually unplanned, and experimental - this new thing forms a step up to the next work.
Painting for me is a very physical act. If it is a large work, I usually lay the canvas or paper on the floor so that I can work rapidly into fluid paint ... like working on a huge watercolour. There is a sensation of diving into the painting.
Successive layers can be transparent veils or thicker paint … an accumulation of impulses, thoughts, and imagery. Things happen through the process. Smaller pictures I think of as vignettes, or sketch book pages. These cover the studio walls and tend to seep into my subconscious, only to emerge via peripheral vision in bigger paintings. I have fun with titles, inventing them usually after the work is finished. I would love to see some of my larger paintings as tapestries.
The art writer Rachel Fijalkowska said of my work:
“Anna-Lise paints with fluidity and instinctive conviction. The powerful, hypnotic content of her images emerges through relentless dedication and daily engagement between mind, paint and brush allowing the ideas to take over, creating a doorway to an internal and out of control place where shapes and patterns form a dialogue, where the chaotic imaginary occasionally meets the recognizable. Forms appear, then are drowned only to reappear elsewhere in other paintings.
They have gone viral: the images run away from reality on an uncontrollable journey. Re-cycled paint fragments fly from one image to another; ideas are buried under layers of paint and risk-taking technique. There is an energetic, raw power in her paintings, it explodes, producing unimaginable and multiple visions of brilliance, expertise, limitless opulence, depth, and decadence.
Anna-Lise obsessively produces a visual poetry writhing with jewels in a rampage of techno-colour and distortion, an expression of the raw, visceral layers of the unconscious, a wild cacophony of beauty, disgust and at times unapologetic ugliness in an explosion of movement and fantasy. Shapes move, repeat and reflect, jumping from one painting to another; a chemical reaction begins, and a chain of unimaginable events unfold, driving the production of the images which change and progress over years of development taking the viewer to an uncanny, spectacular, persistently challenging and uneasy space.”
Could you explain more about how being a woman has affected your career?
Being a woman has not affected my work. However, I am obviously aware of the gender imbalance in all areas of life. Thanks to the blood, sweat and tears of many magnificent feminist’s things are slowly changing.
Can you name some other female (artist) that inspires you and explain why they do so?
Some Female artists that I admire are: Marianne North, the Victorian explorer and painter for her guts and determination…. The seventeenth century artist, Artemesia Gentileschi for her bravery and persistence.
More recently I am enjoying the work of Vanessa Baird, Pia Fries, Mamma Andersson, Solange Knopf, Carol Rama, Allison Schulnik, Rosa Loy, Amy Sillman, Lucy Mink, Shara Hughes, Lee Lozano, Laura Owens, Rose Wylie… I could go on!!! Plenty more fantastic women Artists out there.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being a female artist?
Personally, I do not find being a female artist ‘challenging’. Actually, I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to work/play in all of my various studios throughout my life.
What would I like people to notice about my artwork?
I want my paintings to jump off the walls. I hope they give people a sense of enjoyment, discomfort, comedy, elegance, and beauty…Conflicting visual sensations, in other words! Children are the best…. they respond directly and with immediate…. they have no barriers or inhibitions.