Jul 9–Aug 3, 2022

Anthony Ames

Fifty Paintings
83 Grand Street, New York City NY 10013 Map

Ames is a practicing architect and artist in Atlanta, Georgia and has operated the architectural office Anthony Ames Architect since 1976. The work of Ames’s artistic practice lies between still life painting, collage, and sculpture, his signature style centers on his ability to represent the mutable nature of spatial perception. Ames employs an incredibly consistent palette of colors and invents clever compositions that undermine the stability of the picture plane.

Ames’s work employs overlap, occlusion, convergence, and diminution as illusory devices invoking “phenomenal transparency” defined by Gyorgy Kepes in 1944 and elaborated on by Colin Rowe and Robert Slutzky a decade later. As opposed to literal transparency Rowe and Slutzky write about phenomenal transparency as “a condition to be discovered in a work of art...the transparent ceases to be that which is perfectly clear and becomes instead that which is clearly ambiguous.”[1] That which is phenomenally transparent in Ames’s paintings oscillates between deep and shallow space. The compositions resist a singular reading and invite viewers to exercise their perceptual abilities as they navigate the works.

Ames realizes both his paintings and his interiors with Pratt & Lambert acrylic latex house paint, available in a set range of colors and which he does not mix. The fixed palette of color fields within the paintings and the painted walls on which they are hung relate, compliment, or even match, producing the effect of continuity between architecture and architectural representation. In select compositions columns–represented either in relief or in elevation–operate according to pictorial logic the same way a structural column would by interrupting and occluding an area of the scene. This interruption prompts viewers to visually interpolate the missing information, presenting the opportunity to introduce spatial ambiguity, the paintings flicker between multiple potential spatial resolutions.

Anthony Ames’s buildings and paintings are a continuous compositional effort, each medium informing the other. The consistency and duration of this multimedia project opens itself up to debate about where the painting practice ends and the architectural discipline begins. Ames’s work challenges the disciplinary boundaries of art and architecture by orchestrating the convergence of canvas[2] and building.

Anthony Ames’s Fifty Paintings exhibition at a83 includes 47 paintings produced between 1985 and 2022, three serigraph prints produced with John Nichols Printmakers & Publishers at 83 Grand Street in 1989, a seven-piece porcelain set produced by Swid Powell in 1990, and the accompanying monograph published in 2021.