In her latest solo exhibition in EMERSON Gallery Berlin the British artist and adopted Berliner, ANN NOËL (*1944 in Plymouth/UK) combines and reconstitutes the disparate influences which have passed through and shaped her prolific body of work.
From her work with the legendary Something Else Press in the New York of the 1960s through a teaching stint at Harvard University and on to Berlin in the 1980s, Ann Noël has acted as a virtual picaro of the contemporary art scene, an un-prepoposing voice backstage shaping the course of a flurry of wild activity. From her background as a graphic artist and producer of art books, Ann Noël has participated in on-going developments of the Fluxus movement, concrete art, performance art and pop art, working with the likes of Emmett Williams, Alison Knowles, AY-O, Ben Patterson and Nam June Paik.
The center piece of her current exhibition consists of a new series of brightly colored, mid-sized geometric paintings floating atop the names of all nine muses and their companion Sappho, printed in crisp ancient Greek letters. At first glance, the relationship between the paintings and the ancient Greek names remains a mystery. The pictures work as abstract painting and playful pop icons. With time the game and the title of the exhibition become clear: More than a few of the art icons Ann Noël has encountered have dabbled with more or less serious in the art of Zen Buddhism, which may hold the key to grasping the paintings. The works are not intended to signify anything in particular. Rather, they provide a focal point of concentration where the viewer can let his or her mind wander, meditating or musing on anything which might happen to take his or her fancy.
The exhibition is rounded off by various other graphic works involving diverse media and found objects. The works offer a counterpoint to the often pretentious application of Zen in the arts. Ann Noël’s work is most often playful, and blithely good natured. They offer the viewer the simple pleasure of letting our minds wander – often to surprising effect.