Virtually Real: Ann Catherine Carter at 40AU

Ann Catherine Opened
Ann Catherine Carter‘s Nothing Never Happens exhibit at 40AU is yet another entry in the big, bold abstractions category in a local spring season that’s been packed with shows of similar work. It’s not a bad thing to be a part of a trend, but I point it out as timely comparisons always inspire a desire to rank one artist against another, and Carter is holding her own here. Carter’s show consists of mostly large canvases layered with enamel, acrylic, spray paint, aluminum and screen printing. Carter is similarly democratic about her images. They veer from the expressionistic star chart of “Wipe Memory” —

Ann Catherine Wipe Memory
— to the graphic zig zags, stripes and numbers in the similarly named “Head in the Clouds” and “Distraction.” The whole show has a mathematical undertone, and Carter is attempting to access that space where the real, tactile world and its virtual, digital representation overlap. She manages to evoke the spirit of the digital environment with her numbers, repeating stripes, neon lines and boldly colored geometric elements — the aesthetic here even feels a bit like a reboot of the same look that covered humanity’s first virtual voyages during the cyberpunk revolution of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Check out an old copy of Mondo 2000 magazine or imagine a reprint of author William Gibson‘s Mona Lisa Overdrive and you’ll know what I’m talking about. A little variety can be a good thing, but too much of a good thing and the sweet starts to sour. Included with these large canvases is a smallish fabric assemblage hanging in front of a very small painting. The piece is called “ICONS”:

Ann Catherine ICONS
In addition, there is a small printed poster featuring an abstract design in yellow, red and blue. I rather like both of these pieces individually, but I’m not sure why they are included here. If they must be included, more similar pieces are needed to make these feel like a part of the bigger show instead of a break from it.

Ann Catherine NOISE
That said, Nothing is worth seeing. It’s an ambitious show by a young painter who is staking a claim in a Nashville art scene that is as competitive as it’s ever been, and it deserves your attention.

This review originally appeared on the Nashville Scene‘s Country Life blog.

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About Joe Nolan

Joe Nolan is the visual arts editor. He is a poet, musician, artist and critic who distills the city's gallery scene from Nashville's east side. Find out more about his projects at (Photo of Joe Nolan by John Rogers)