Recognized for her ability to make ephemeral moments gracefully distinct, Daems’ first US solo exhibition will present both drawings and photographs that extract the exceptional from the conventional. Taken from the series 72 girls (and some boys) that could be models, the group of photographs in the show initially read as unbiased document, capturing anonymity on New York City streets, and casting Daems as the meticulous voyeur. As a series however, the artist’s delicate subjectivity unravels. Through calm compositions Daems builds an unpolished and vulnerable version of the City and its young, remarkably beautiful population. Sharp profiles of unaware twenty-somethings are momentarily captured. Ambiguous, vacant expressions softened by a natural light – both features specific to Manhattan. Together, portraits of the unremarkable become seductive. Or, as Dan Graham said in an interview that he conducted with Daems in 2007, “…I think great art is about humor and real life. [Daems’] work is not about fantasy. It’s actually about real things…”
While the works on paper have a less refined quality, they also expose grace in the insignificant. Small, unembellished line drawings are complimented with narrative captions like “The waiter puts on a new table cloth” or “Agnes puts her shoe in the front door to prop it open for the arriving guests.” By distilling these events to their essence, Daems’ again exposes a version of the world where beauty and indeed humor are embedded into the smallest of moments. Also on view will be several larger drawings in which Daems manipulates her own loose color-test scribbles into larger scale prints. Bringing these small details of life into focus creates an understated reference to abstract painting and, once again, renders something ordinarily pedestrian as captivating.
In spite of the works’ seemingly immaterial content and her use of balanced and measured compositional schemes, Daems’ refreshing scrutiny sets the work apart. This is an artist showing us how to better pay attention, asking us to look more closely. She’s handing us the moments we missed, giving us a chance to find value where we might not have before.
Anne Daems lives and works in Belgium. She has had numerous solo shows throughout Europe and been included in several group exhibitions internationally. Daems has also held residencies at the ISCP, New York in 2005, the Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melbourne in 2002 and the Cité des Arts, Paris in 1997.