Anna Park’s Tennis Players’ faces betray both hard work and rage

Anna Park’s Tennis Players’ faces betray both hard work and rage

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In her 2019 series of portraits of tennis players, Anna Park depicted the enormous strain the athletes bear, accentuated by the contorted grimaces of their facial expressions. Much like all of her other large-scale charcoal drawings, in this series the young artist, whose career has been growing steeply in recent years, balances between figurative and portrait work and abstraction, based more on feelings rather than reality. Simultaneously, her dynamic works emphasise movement, both in their topic and in the swirling lines’ bold strokes.

Anna Park, Sean, 2019. Source: Artsy

Anna Park’s paintings won't show you who won the set, however, thanks to the players’ contorted faces, even the first look betrays that in this sport they come by nothing for free. In the series of black and white charcoal drawings from 2019, Anna Park highlights moments of tension in the players' performance and its subsequent release. As is typical of her work, she observes tense human emotions and translates them through dynamic strokes into an almost abstract form. But it is not just purely athletic performances, she also observes moments when players lose their nerves under the pressure of the moment. In some of the drawings, there are tantrums and even physical assaults.

American dream in constant motion

Tennis, and sport generally, form only a part of the New York-based artist’s work. Anna Park searches for the topics of her large charcoal drawings in the everyday life of contemporary America. She says that she depicts life as we live it right now.

Anna Park, Answering Machine, 2019. Source: author´s website

Her drawings invite you to exuberant parties, explore crowded dance floors and observe bar fights, and other times she focuses on equally crowded scenes of daily commutes and the never-ending morning rush in the New York subway with passengers hurriedly sipping their morning coffee. The frenetic energy of New York has strongly influenced the style of the artist born in Daegu, South Korea, and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. Anna Park depicts a world that is constantly in motion.

Strong emotions and bold strokes

The young, successful artist offers a new view of the American dream.  It doesn’t lack depictions of stars and stripes, as well as celebrities in the light of flashing cameras. In her work, you will find typical objects for the United States, such as giant motorcycles or cowboy hats. She also looks for inspiration on the internet and in various media, whether it is sports or popular culture from TV and games.

Anna Park, Oh glory!, 2022. Source: Artsy

Anna Park's works are filled with strong emotions, which are hidden not only in the depicted faces but also in the very technique of charcoal drawing. The bold strokes sometimes give an almost abstract impression, although people remain the centre of her focus. The viewer sometimes has to look closely to orient themself in the frenetic swirls of lines and sharp angles. The tumultuous explosions of dynamic strokes in her large charcoal drawings are reminiscent of the endless flow of information and entertainment that overwhelms humanity today. Some compare her work to contemporary cubism, while others see a parallel to comic book illustration. What is certain is that there is no lack of movement, gestures and emotions.

Anna Park was born in South Korea and grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, where her mother worked as a pharmacist. Her mother encouraged her daughter's love of art and allowed her to attend art classes. When art teacher Bruce Robertson saw one of Anna's drawings in a student exhibition at the local school, he invited her to his class. The girl soon fell in love with art and dreamed of working at a big animation studio like Pixar. She pursued an education in illustration and animation, but during her studies, she discovered the allure of freelance work and decided to change schools. She went on to study at the New York Academy of Art. There, she was noticed by the eminent sculptor and designer Brian Donnelly, known as KAWS, who helped launch her fast-growing career.

Anna Park, Heads up, 2019. Source: artist’s website

Currently, Anna Park lives and works in Brooklyn and her work has been featured in group exhibitions such as 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone in 2022 at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, 100 Drawings from Now at The Drawing Center in New York, and Art on the Grid at the Public Art Fund in 2020. In the autumn of 2019, she had her first ever solo exhibition, Honeymoon, at Ross+Kramer's in East Hampton, and a year later, her first solo exhibition in Europe, On Tilt, at T293 Gallery in Rome. In 2021, her work debuted in Asia and entered the permanent collections of four museums: the Atlanta High Museum of Art, Miami's Institute of Contemporary Art, Pérez Art Museum, and Houston's Museum of Fine Art. Another solo show of hers was exhibited at Half Gallery in New York and she gained gallery representation with Blum & Poe, where she had a solo show, Mirror Shy, in 2022.

Anna Park, Let’s talk about it, 2019. Source: artist’s website

Anna Park, Brenda, 2019. Source: Artsy

Anna Park, It's good for you, 2020. Source: Artsy

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Published 25.02.2023

Kateřina Hubertová je redaktorka, blogerka, PRistka a psavec různých textů o tom, co ji baví a zajímá. Mezi její témata patří cestování, kterému věnuje svůj blog Kachna se kochá, památky, architektura, divadlo a výtvarné umění, o kterém má příležitost psát právě v magazínu Sport in Art. Jejím cílem je tato někdy trochu složitá témata podat tak, aby to byla hlavně zábava, ať už jde o historickou bojovku, procházku po Praze nebo povídání o málo známém umělci.

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