Thou Shalt Not Covet – the Abstraction of Desire
Surface Fetish, a solo exhibition by Anya Pesce at .M Contemporary, Darlinghurst Sydney
January 25 – February 8, 2023
When a fetish is a want it is a deep craving; a yearning that goes far beyond need. When a fetish is the thing coveted, the object itself exudes power and attraction as the most desirable object in the room. In using the language of superstition, dark desire and psychological disorder to title her fourth solo exhibition Surface Fetish, artist Anya Pesce signals that perhaps, all is not as it appears on the surface, but that there are powerful undercurrents at play in this (art) world. And what a beautiful, gleaming world it is too. The artworks of this exhibition manifest the idea of surface as an abstraction of desire. Continuing the allusions drawn in Pesce’s previous solo exhibition at .M Contemporary, Finish Fetish (2022)[i], these lustrous surfaces provide a visual locus where the aesthetics of fashion, consumerism and desire collide in a shimmering membrane. The surfaces are beautiful, alluring, potent. They bend, twist, buckle and beckon; we could be yours; they suggest. We are all available; they murmur, for you. It is irresistible then to draw metaphors for contemporary life and particularly as it relates to culturally constructed cycles of production, consumption, and the knowing activation of desire within the consumer / spectator.
If a surface could be distilled, here it is, manifested in elemental, tangible and seductive form. Disarmingly simple in appearance and presentation, the twenty-three surfaces that make up Surface Fetish are monochromatic (though this descriptor of hue alone does not do justice to the dazzling range of metallic lustres, satin finishes and powdery pastels). A mere 3 – 6 mm in width, they are about a finger pinch of skin. Most are on the wall though a few will be freestanding. Resembling thick pools of poured or bewitched paint – each inhabited by Pesce’s signature frozen gestures they are made luscious and evocative of bodily sensation through the ripples, folds and distensions which appear to heave beneath the surface. As reflective surfaces that also seemingly wear the impression of bodies, it is as if the artist is holding up a mirror to us in a surface that enhances the phenomenon of consumption virtual ponds for today’s Narcissus.
Essay continued in PDF exhibition catalogue.
[i] Anya Pesce, Finish Fetish (2022), solo exhibition at .M Contemporary, Darlinghurst, Sydney