CONVERSING ON CANVAS

words ANNE HEBEBRAND  |  portrait photography SUSAN METZGER

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Painter Anne Hebebrand in her Bath studio.

Growing up in Munich, Germany, I was introduced early on to the paintings of Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and the Blue Rider Art Group.
I was born into a family of late 19th and 20th century artists, a legacy that has shaped and informed my life as an artist.

A year after moving to the United States in 1977, I was introduced to the dynamic gestures and larger-than-life paintings of the abstract expressionists at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts, where
I received the Dana Pond painting award in 1981. Most of my professional life was spent teaching at the high school and college level. Teaching has been an integral part of my art making, helping me verbalize formal as well as philosophical ideas. In 2012, I was named outstanding secondary arts educator by the Connecticut Art Education Association.

Since 2017 I have lived in Bath, Maine, having converted an old shed into my studio. Living and painting in Maine has been a life-changing event.
I love being in nature and find my world growing larger and fuller with the uninterrupted time I can spend in my studio overlooking an estuary where birds and animals thrive.

My process is to work on a lot of paintings at once and move back and forth between them. Right now, I probably have more than 10 paintings in progress in my studio. Using cold wax and oil I lay down multiple layers of interlocking and overlapping shapes until a composition slowly emerges.
A dialogue starts taking place between the painting and me. Working with layers also lets me unearth colors and shapes that are underneath the surface, and allows for drawing and incising lines, creating a rich and tactile surface. I do not start out with a preconceived image, but a general openness to see what happens. The paintings are all titled afterward based on subconscious connections.

I am fortunate to spend my winters in Todos Santos, a small town in Baja California, Mexico, where my paintings are represented by the Galería de Todos Santos and Pez Gordo in San José. I have shown my work at the Frank Brockman Gallery in Brunswick in 2019 and just recently at the Maine Jewish Museum in Portland and am looking forward to being part of a works on paper show at the Carver Hill Gallery in Camden this spring.

Anne talks about some of her recent work:

These paintings are from the recent exhibition at the Maine Jewish Museum in Portland:

What an exhilarating experience, to see the results of a year’s work outside of my own studio. Expertly installed by curator Nancy Davidson, the paintings are hung in a way that they start telling a visual story. Moving from one painting to the other, certain elements are carried from one to the next, sharing a common narrative as if they were talking to each other. Lines traverse the surfaces in various geometric patterns, creating personal constellations. In a series of small paintings called “Celestials,” I explore various configurations that float against dark, moody colors.

As I look back at this body of work, I recognize that the paintings were very much driven by my father’s death last year. Where did his spark of life go? The paintings all deal with transitions and passages, an afterlife of sorts. The daily work in my studio helped ground me and work through my grief. My father was always connected to my art and I believe I was the link to my father’s family’s artistic heritage.

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Held Together by Strings, 2019, 48 x 36 inches, oil on canvas

Various shapes are held together by taut lines. They can be seen as holding on or letting go. In the lower half the shapes are anchored as well as floating against a light atmospheric blue, whereas in the upper third a light-filled shape made of triangular shapes of warm colors is cloaked by a deeper blue filled with a splattering of starlike constellations. The blue of this painting, hung diagonally across the room from the entryway, exerts a magnetic pull across the room.

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Waiting in Silence, 2019, 48 x 48 inches, oil on canvas

This painting was completed fairly quickly and feels very ethereal. Three quarters of a bright red Asian umbrella hovers against a white tiled background. The intense red is offset by other geometric shapes and especially by a lime green square falling down from the top edge. What I really like are all the gestural and scratched-in marks in contrast to the more geometric shapes and how all the shapes play off each other against the white, which is divided into two spaces by a horizon line.

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Far Edge of the Forest, 2019, 48 x 60 inches, oil on canvas

In the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, the forest is a mysterious place inhabited by scary creatures and full of dangers. In this painting the deep reds are layered and complex with various textures. On the upper right side, a dark greenish area separated by zigzag lines can be seen as a deep abyss. The dark diamond shape is suspended from various lines and also lurks as a dark, dangerous place. This is one of my favorite paintings exuding mystery and intriguing painting passages.

annehebebrand.com

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