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'Southern Abstraction' is a compelling view of a provocative art form

Louisiana artist Anastasia Pelias exhibited her artwork in 2006 at the Eichold Gallery at Spring Hill College, and also in the “Catalyst” show at Space 301 in the aftermath of the BP Gulf oil spill.


She has two paintings in the exhibit: “Automatics” (“Milk & Honey”), 2008, oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 by 45 inches; and “Automatics” (“Lookout”), 2009, oil and acrylic on canvas, 50 by 40 inches. Both were part of Pelias’ “Automatics” series from 2008-09.


“In this body of work my intent was to remove all conscious thought from the making of the work,” she says, “but I was inspired to create this body of work by the way that snails travel and the trails that they leave, and also by the way that I felt post-Katrina — like a peripatetic refugee with no real place to go. And, of course the Dadas!”


The artist says one of the things she likes best about this exhibition is “the far-reaching parameters associated with the term ‘Southern Abstraction.’”


“Many of the painters in the show were just born in the South or went to school in the South and now live in New York or places other than the South,” she says. “I do believe that to some extent we are all products of our environments, but for me personally my work is informed equally by New Orleans, where I live, and by Greece, my ancestral home.”


Among the artists Pelias most admires are painters.


“Katharina Grosse, Margaret Evangeline, Nancy Haynes (and) James Nares are a few who I’m looking at now,” she says.


Pelias is currently working on a series of paintings called “Washed,” which she says “involves highly saturated fields of color bumping into each other.”


“I just had a solo show of this work at Heriard-Cimino Gallery,” she says. “I have a large painting from this series titled ‘Love, Pleasure, Water’ on view through June 10 at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans.”


Written by Thomas B. Harrison