Anne Imhof’s solo exhibition EMO is the largest presentation of the artist’s work in the United States to date and her first in Los Angeles. It brings together several bodies of work across multiple mediums, putting each in dialogue with found objects in ways that implicate visitors’ bodies as they move through the space, at turns exalting and frustrating the viewing experience.
Visitors enter and first encounter a labyrinth of industrial water tanks that snakes through the gallery's ground floor, creating hallways, enclosures and windows bathed in a deep-red glow. The tanks' caged armatures stretch several feet high, obscuring both the viewer's physical path and their sight lines onto Imhof's paintings.
The artist regularly plays with the anxiety and anticipation around what can and cannot be seen, what remains hidden and in need of excavation, as well as the charged nature of empty spaces.
Several of the artist's recurring motifs in her paintings appear on panels and canvases, including the jester, or clown; billowing Technicolor clouds; collaborators from past performances.
Imhof recently added techniques to her artistic practice, in which bright reds and turquoise are superimposed over imagery to create a multilayered, three-dimensional effect that complicates the works' two-dimensional nature.
The paintings in EMO are on the whole figurative, representing a departure from Imhof’s largely abstract painterly practice.
Timed at different intervals several of Imhof's newest films, both shot around Moscow in the early months of 2022 before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, are screened on a full-sized billboard on the second gallery floor. In AI Winter (2022) performer Eliza Douglas, shirtless and unflinching amid the harsh Russian winter, and using repetitive, machinelike gestures, walks briskly around and between the architectural ruins housed within Moscow's Gorky Park.
In Youth (2022), a group of horses runs and communes together in an open field covered in freshly fallen snow. They seem to nurture one another, moving beautifully and freely through this natural environment to the baroque strains of J. S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion. As day moves slowly into night, the camera gradually reveals the site to be an urban one, a historic social housing development located at the edge of the city. Yet the utopian feeling created between these animals is unmarred by this revelation.
The works in EMO are coming together in ways that both coordinate and contradict to the hard and soft of metal and skin, offering a study of contrasts between the natural and unnatural, human and animal, and human and machine.