Anna Weyant is one of the most exciting young painters working today, and she’s definitely near the top of my #Artists2Watch list. But in almost every conversation I’ve had about Weyant, John Currin’s name seems to come up. It’s often along the lines of, “She’s a millennial #JohnCurrin !” or worse, “She’s female John Currin!” Yes, Weyant and Currin are similar. But to place her so firmly in the shadow of another great artist is unfair to Weyant, because her work is complex and dynamic, deserving of its own unique spotlight.
While her aesthetic is grounded in Dutch Golden Age painting (with a dash of Currin and #LisaYuskavage ), Weyant’s work feels unmistakably contemporary. Her keen awareness of pop culture and social media is evident in the dramatic, highly Instagrammable poses her characters take on. Whether presented upside-down, biting and yawning, or with their breasts spilling out, Weyant’s subjects feel as though they were captured in a perfect, candid moment – similar to the way we often present our own lives on social media. Her theatrical use of light and shadows evokes both Baroque painting and Hollywood movies, further blurring the line between real, everyday life and the highly constructed images we see in pop culture.
Weyant’s subject matter is also reminiscent of childhood bedtime stories and nursery rhymes. Her characters’ distinctively round and prominent faces echo the mischievous dolls from the Madeline children’s book series, from which Weyant draws inspiration. This almost animated style with which Weyant portrays her figures evokes memories of youthful innocence and wistful nostalgia. I also love how Weyant finds inspiration in art history. For example, the first painting in the slideshow, “Loose Screw” (2020), is inspired by #OttoDix ’s 1921 painting “Woman With A Red Hat”.
There’s so much to say about Weyant’s work, but at the end of the day, they are simply fun paintings to stand in front of. Irreverent, cheeky, and surreal, Weyant’s paintings captivate her audience (myself included) and offer a momentary escape from the world around us.