Space, form and narrative in the painting of Anna Foka
Perhaps the first thing one notices in the work of Anna Foka is her desire to escape. But the escape we are dealing with here is not only that which transports us to some imaginary ‘elsewhere’, whether dreamlike or nightmarish, far from the banality of daily life. It is form itself which is seeking to escape, to emerge from its carcass and venture out into the surrounding regions, back and forth across the entire canvas, in a game of transfigurations and metamorphoses animating the composition with its rhythm and giving it its own coherence. An escape which crosses the painting in a tangle of insistent allusions and silent affirmations, held back at the last moment by some force of re-absorption, to be recycled back into the inner world of the painting.
In some cases the monumental dimension is more marked than in others. But it is a monumentality that is in some way ‘crushed’, frozen in mid-stride, suspended in an intermediate form which on the one hand is in the process of freeing itself from its static state, and on the other finds itself trapped in a movement of fluidity. Form is caught in a dialectical relationship between the possibilities offered within the picture space and the necessities inherent in the narrative logic. Collage, dismantling and deliberate confusion of forms are all used as the channels for a deconstructed narrative which assumes its form in the gaps between representation and abstraction, between painting ‘in itself’ and its inherent tendency continually to become something else: fable, narrative, history.
Without abandoning itself entirely to the sensuality of luxuriant creation, the artist’s work on transitions and the superimposing of one area upon another creates textural effects which are like so many microcosms, dazzling and fabulous – fabulous in the true etymological sense of the word – all the more in that they are relieved of rigorously representational constraints. The artist’s hypertrophied vision tactfully penetrates the world of a narrative that can only barely sustain itself. Images are just as deranged as their meaning. They remind us the impossibility of comparison with the original version of a script which has yet to be written.
Francis Bacon used to say that one cannot actually talk about painting, one can only talk around it. Foka’s work is no exception to this rule, all the more so in that one has the impression that she proceeds by means of coded metaphors, constructing for the spectator a game of appearances which vacillates between what is said aloud and what is whispered, between what is shown and what is kept silent.