ANNE SAMAT | Eyes Are Like Angels But Heart Is Cold #2

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Marc Straus Gallery
Eyes Are Like Angels But Heart Is Cold #2, 2020
Rattan sticks, kitchen and garden utensils, beads, ceramic, metal and plastic ornaments
112 x 34 x 9 in.


Who claims that threads of wool cannot be hair, or that the fanning tines of a yard rake attached to each other cannot be comforting, like extended arms open wide for an embrace? Anne Samat, an artist from Malaysia, questions identities and the means by which they can be portrayed. Instead of literal representations she instead uses wool and thread and humble household goods from 99 cent stores to construct totemic wall sculptures that embody the distilled memories and feelings she has of family and friends. Domestic and industrial items removed from their utilitarian functions and transformed into anthropomorphized structures.

For Samat, it is paramount to embody what one feels to be from within − without fear, without coercion. Her works often have clear gender assignments, but even when this can be discerned it often feels irrelevant in light of the greater presence of the sculptures. Brightly colored and heavily adorned with details, each one resonates as an avatar or altar.

Held together by the South East Asian art of Pua Kumbu weaving, which Samat formally studied, these works juxtapose the hand-crafted feel of weaving with the hard aesthetics of industrial objects. She combines traditional craft, which she practices with pride, with inferior, mass-produced products. Her work is meant to thwart the stable gears of the calm tradition. Just as the search for self is a long and winding process for humanity, her monumental sculptures do not reveal their history and legacy immediately. Much of her work reflects upon her vital relationships, her immediate family, particularly her mother who recently passed. Each work is foundationally unique; they each have their own story embedded. They are about love, individuality, and liberation.

Samat graduated from the Mara Institute of Technology in Malaysia with a bachelor’s degree in textile design with an emphasis on weaving and minor in resist print technique. She has shown extensively in South East Asia, most recently in an exhibition entitled Stories We Scare Ourselves With at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taiwan (2019),Elevation Laos, Vientiane, Laos and the Yokohama Triennale in Japan (2017) These achievements are complemented by her 2018 exhibition at Cestfossel Kunstlaboratorium in Norway and her 2019 residency and museum show at Hudson Valley MoCA in New York.