LV: Color, then, is in part geographically determined, and relates to your identity as an author.
AF: If you go to South Asia, to India, to Bangladesh, walls will be painted a bright turquoise color. There is no holding back, no fear of saturation. In Bangladesh, the word “gaudy” is a compliment. Women are competing to have the gaudiest sari. My parents decorated their house with rugs and wallpaper. It was full of color and patterns of all kinds, including the psychedelic patterns of the ’70s that had been influenced by South Asia.
LV: In the West there is both skepticism about color and a simultaneous attraction to its perceived decadence and superficiality.
AF: That is something I’ve always been interested in: reaffirming the place of color in painting—fighting the chromophobic impulse. I’ve had a similar feeling about the decorative. Color has always been associated with the decorative, as has pattern, and I hope my work undoes some of these binaries: superficial vs. deep, decorative vs. conceptual, rigor vs. pleasure, etc.
LV: We started out speaking of material and bodily accidents, imperfections that assert the unpredictability of your process and challenge your authority and authorship. Yet your role as an author, your cultural background and biography, have clearly entered the work as well.
AF: You are yourself. But making art both affirms and challenges your origins and your biases.
LV: What is the relation of the present tense performative verb paint, and the finished painting as object? Isn’t there a contradiction?
AF: This contradiction is at the heart of my work. We’ve spoken about the present tense and the momentary, and the connections with chance procedures and dematerialized artworks. Yet I’m giving my viewers finished, seamless, sometimes impenetrable objects! Still, these paintings are a trace or residue of a bodily, material, and momentary act, and I hope they come alive again and again, as a viewer questions and wonders about what he or she is looking at and how it came to be. For me, a painting is finished when it asserts a presence that I can only describe as the right balance of discipline and unruliness, when its structure unravels in the act of looking. That balance might make enough perfection for you to see an enigmatic illusion, and enough imperfection to make it open, approachable and complex: real and material, human.
Anoka Faruqee is a painter who lives and works in New Haven, CT. She has exhibited her work in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and in Asia. Group and solo exhibitions include Max Protetch, Monya Rowe, Thomas Erben Galleries and Hosfelt Gallery (New York), PS1 Museum (Queens), Albright-Knox Gallery (Buffalo), Angles Gallery (Los Angeles), Chicago Cultural Center, and June Lee (Seoul, Korea). She received her MFA from Tyler School of Art in 1997 and her BA from Yale University in 1994. She attended the Whitney Independent Study Program, the Skowhegan School of Art, and the PS1 National Studio Program. Grants include the Pollock Krasner Foundation and Artadia. Faruqee is curently an associate professor at the Yale School of Art, where she is also acting director of graduate studies of the Painting and Printmaking Department. She has also taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and CalArts, where she was co-director of the Art Program for a number of years.
Liena Vayzman is an art historian, curator, and photographer. Recent publications include “Feminist Film Noir: Sally Potter’s Thriller Unpacks Misogyny” for Dirty Looks: Queer Experimental Film and Video (New York) and “Farm Fresh Art: Food, Art, Politics, and the Blossoming of Social Practice” in Art Practical (San Francisco). In 2012, she curated the Crystal Palace: 1st ArtSpace Experimental Film and Video Festival, based in New Haven, CT, and traveling internationally.