Anna Weyant, The Return of The Girls Next Door, 2022–23 / Courtesy of Anna Weyant / Photo Rob McKeever
Anna Weyant: The Guitar Man
Oct 18 – Dec 22, 2023
Paris, France

Gagosian is pleased to announce The Guitar Man, an exhibition by Anna Weyant opening on October 18, 2023, at 9 rue de Castiglione, Paris. This is the New York–based artist’s European solo debut and follows her first presentation with the gallery, Baby, It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over, at Gagosian, New York, in 2022. Named for a song by Los Angeles soft rock band Bread, The Guitar Man features new figure and still-life paintings inspired by classics of American pop culture including The Addams Family, Clue, Looney Tunes, and Playboy. In these striking images, Weyant develops further the dark aesthetic and haunting undercurrent of her previous work.

The paintings on view in Paris build on the motif of the dollhouse that Weyant has been exploring since her earliest work. In preparing The Guitar Man, she constructed a new, exquisite physical example reminiscent of the iconic Bates family house from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). The artist mined this structure for inspiration – House Exterior (2023) depicts it head-on – and used it as a platform for experimentation with lighting design. The jewel-box scale of the gallery space at rue de Castiglione also resonates with the dollhouse’s claustrophobic aura, evoking the kinds of childhood memories that linger into adulthood.

The eerie, portentous air of the dollhouse form permeates all of Weyant’s works, whether portraits, figures, or still-life compositions, resonating with images that undercut their subjects’ attempts at composure with moments of conscious awkwardness, hinting at mild but pervasive anxiety and the manipulative influence of unseen – perhaps, here, directorial – hands. Weyant’s subjects reject the impulse to violent reaction, however, in favor of quiet, introspective refusal. In her precisely rendered still lifes, meanwhile, she lends everyday objects an unsettling air.

In Girl with Candlestick (2023), Weyant depicts a pale blond figure – the exhibition’s protagonists have been made to appear interchangeable – wrapped in a white sheet toting a slender candle in a brass holder through a pitch-dark interior. The subject’s characteristically smooth, rounded face and upward-cast eyes are given eerie new shape and expression by the illumination from below, a trick borrowed from cinematic and theatrical lighting that recasts the ordinary as malevolent or mysterious.

In This Is a Life? (2023), she causes the image of a silver vase of flowers perched on a wooden windowsill that frames an opaque black backdrop – and in which her own reflection is visible – to appear doubly artificial. The work’s white-and-yellow blooms are flat and stylized, as if cut from sheets of paper, while the title’s ambiguously provocative question is splashed across the upper third of the composition in a bold red-and-white script. The query is the title of a 1955 Looney Tunes animation that parodies the 1950s-’60s American talk show This Is Your Life, but might be read as casting mischievous doubt on the value of the still-life genre, or on the flowers’ (or our) own existence.

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