Strange and lovely, Part Two: Transparent bodies in the paintings of Anne Siems

Anne Siems, 'Snail Girls', 2009.

Anne Siems, ‘Snail Girls’, 2009.

Anne Siems, 'Snail Girls', 2009.

Anne Siems, ‘Antler Girl’, 2012.

Anne Siems, 'Snail Girls', 2009.

Anne Siems, ‘Birdsong’, 2008.

Anne Siems, 'Bird Medium', 2008.

Anne Siems, ‘Bird Medium’, 2008.

This week I will be profiling three contemporary artists whose work exists in that indescribable place somewhere between strange and lovely. I am generally turned off by things which I find too sweetly whimsical or superfluously weird, but when artists manage to hit that delicate balance between charming and curious, the result can be wonderfully compelling. (See part one on Christina Bothwell.)

The second artist I will discuss in this series on strange and lovely artwork is German-American painter Anne Siems. In an interesting parallel to the translucent glass bodies found in Christina Bothwell‘s work, Siems allows the viewer’s gaze to penetrate the body of her figures, creating a slightly chilling undertone to the world she has created. Often depicting little girls, their spectral bodies float in the foreground like those harmless clear jellyfish just below the surface of the ocean.

The flatness in her figures recalls her interest in early American folk art, combined with the  tonal depth and natural settings of European Old masters painting, and touches of botanical illustrations. But she transcends our expectations of the styles she references, combining them with a touch of surreality that is both eerie and imaginative. The flatness of her painting style and her awkwardly posed figures often make Siems’ paintings feel a little…off… but it is an off-ness that is strangely appealing.

Anne Siems, 'Friendship', 2010.

Anne Siems, ‘Friendship’, 2010.

Anne Siems, 'Two-Headed Sheep', 2007.

Anne Siems, ‘Two-Headed Sheep’, 2007.

Anne Siems, 'Owl Bush', 2012.

Anne Siems, ‘Owl Bush’, 2012.

Anne Siems, 'Looking Back', 2009.

Anne Siems, ‘Looking Back’, 2009.

Anne Siems, 'Girl and Fawn', 2009.

Anne Siems, ‘Girl and Fawn’, 2009.

Anne Siems, 'St Bird', 2011.

Anne Siems, ‘St Bird’, 2011.

Anne Siems, 'Plant Wisdom', 2012.

Anne Siems, ‘Plant Wisdom’, 2012.

Anne Siems, 'Little Bird Handler', 2011.

Anne Siems, ‘Little Bird Handler’, 2011.

// All images from the artists’ website.

Elsewhere on the Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things:

Christina Bothwell, Kundalini, 2011

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8 thoughts on “Strange and lovely, Part Two: Transparent bodies in the paintings of Anne Siems

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