Sunday, December 31st, 2023 @ 10:00:pm
Grand Central Restaurant, Bar & Sportsbook
Join Transformer on our opening day of Golden Looking Hour and meet artist Anthony Le.
“Golden Looking Hour” at Transformer features paintings by Anthony Le at his first solo exhibition in Washington, D.C. The exhibition features portraits of fellow D.C. artists that questions the social construct of identity and how it can be limiting from the outside looking in but be expansive from the inside looking out. The portrait series celebrates the diversity of local artists but also subverts the cultural expectations that come with that.
“D.C. artists are expected to be political activists and to represent the racial and/or gender groups they may be part of. Although artists can make work about these issues, the assumption that they should is intrusive and can limit a fuller understanding of their art. For this series, I asked fellow artists to take photos of themselves as a response to being put into boxes due to their outward identity. The portraits are based on these photos, and I am excited about how the paintings look back at you in subversive ways, ranging from ambivalence to a conscious confrontation to being looked at,” explains Le.
The painted figures bask in golden hour light that Le describes as “imbuing a restorative energy of contemplation, autonomy and self-determination.” The portraits express an intimacy conveyed through life-sized scale, a warping of interior space and a limited color palette that gravitates around golden hour yellow.
The paintings are situated within a site-specific installation at Transformer featuring a trompe l’oeil brick pattern as a framing device to reinforce the construct of access into identity and a visual metaphor between interior and exterior personhood. The trompe l’oeil, made with linocut prints on paper, creates the illusion of being surrounded by two-story buildings where the paintings are windows to peek into voyeuristically. The trompe l’oeil covers three sides of the gallery, creating a sense of enclosure like a panopticon, and the two floors of paintings reinforce the feeling of you being observed as much as you’re observing the paintings. The installation is especially apropos to the Transformer space which previously was an alleyway. This alleyway history was also explored in Rebecca Key’s 2010 exhibition Archetype in the same space.
Anthony Le (born 1985 in Chattanooga, TN, and lives in Washington, DC) is a Vietnamese American multidisciplinary artist. His work centers Asian Americans and other allies in fictional narratives that explore identity as an expansive tool to find moments of confusion, humor and empathy. Le is self-taught and works with acrylic, pastels, printmaking, sculpture and fashion. In 2021, he presented a solo painting exhibition at Tiny Art Gallery NYC titled “My So-Called Asian Life.” In 2023, Le will present his first solo exhibition in DC at Transformer. He is a DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Fellow (2023), and his work is in the DC Art Bank Collection (2021). His work has been included in exhibitions at Touchstone Gallery (2020), Homme Gallery (2021), Target Gallery (2022), Legacy DC Gallery (2022), Foundry Gallery (2022), Hill Center Galleries (2022, 2023), Popcorn Gallery at Glen Echo Park (2022). He has shown work in group exhibitions curated by No Kings Collective (2021), Monochrome Collective (2020), Latela Curatorial (2022) and Petworth Arts Collaborative (2018). He has received support from 51 for 51 (2021) and Mozaik Philanthropy (2021). Le is a co-founder of the Model Mutiny art collective with his artist spouse Ashley Jaye Williams. Le received his BLA at Pennsylvania State University (2009).
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