Meet the Artist

Anne Buckwalter on Art, Life & Everything In Between

Anne Buckwalter on Art, Life & Everything In Between
Anne Buckwalter photo courtesy the artist

Look a little more closely at an Anne Buckwalter painting and you might encounter a few things you weren't expecting. Indeed, a second examination of that flatly rendered domestic interior may cause you to spot one or two things you might have missed on first sight. Things only observable to more prying eyes.

Is that a whip on the floor over there, next to the rocking horse, for instance? And that looks suspiciously like a  dildo standing on the dining room shelf, next to the oh-so-innocent teapot, clock, and horse figurine. And that laptop on the floor, the couple on the screen seem to be connecting most definitely IRL?  

From the moired effects on the wallpaper, to the parquet patterns on the floor, Buckwalter permeates her canvases with ambient storylines through intricate adornment and erotic twists.

Rendered in a painting style reminiscent of the Dutch folk art traditions of her Pennsylvania upbringing, Buckwalter’s practice explores female identity and the coexistence of contradictory elements. For her, the domestic interior is most definitely a psychological, and often sexual, space.


Anne Buckwalter - Home Alone, 2023, gouache on panel, 40 x 40 in (101.6 x 101.6 cm) photo by JSP Art Photography 

“There are three general themes that tend to guide my creative practice, she explains. “Creating intentional ambiguity, exploring female identity, and embracing contradictions. I locate the intersection of these themes by making narrative paintings that use mysterious figures and uncanny spaces to think about gender roles, the female body, and intimacy.”

For Buckwalter, a bed for instance, “perfectly symbolizes the collision of many conflicting elements: sickness, sexuality, comfort, discomfort, consciousness, unconsciousness. By inventing interior spaces, she says she “can allow contradictory elements to live in the same room, literally.”

“I intend my paintings to be both quiet and disquieting, using obscurity,
 tension, and a sparse use of representational space to investigate the emptiness of social constructs," she says. "Specifically, my work aims to raise questions about how gender-related expectations are defined and disrupted.”

Anne Buckwalter - Rosebud Room, 2023, gouache on panel, 24 x 18 in (61 x 45.7 cm) photo by JSP Art Photography

She’s usually in the studio by six or seven in the morning, accompanied by her cat Hoagie, a coffee, and an ambient soundtrack of Ryuichi Sakamoto, Nils Frahm and Arvo Pärt, “staring at whatever I painted the day before, while re-joining the waking world.”

“I feel so grateful to be working as a painter,” she told Artnet in 2023. “For a long time, I worked a 9-to-5 job while also keeping a full-time studio practice, and being able to just be in the studio every day right now is incredibly dreamy. It’s heaven.”

The imagery in her paintings is drawn from both personal memories and books. A lot of books. “They really run the gamut in terms of subject matter,” she says. “I have many books about home decorating, wallpaper, textile, and furniture design, as well as Pennsylvania Dutch culture and folk art.”

Anne Buckwalter - Four Rockers, 2022, gouache on panel, 40 x 30 in (101.6 x 76.2 cm) photo by JSP Art Photography 

“And then I have a lot of sex books—erotic photography, burlesque, fetish and kink culture. And I have a number of artist books, and monographs, and anatomical texts about the body. I love to see them all hanging out together.”

Buckwalter says she loves being “tricked” by painting; taken in by what she calls its “supernatural mystery”. Occasionally she’ll feel confident about how something is progressing, but then, when it’s pretty much finished she realizes it’s not right.

“I think so much of growing as a painter depends on locating the courage to make stuff you don’t like, to fumble around in the inner dark, and then reorient yourself after a lot of errors. It’s why ‘fuck up’ is on my list of studio rules—it truly is a necessary part of the process.”
When she gets stuck she may turn to Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, a deck of cards published in 1975 with enigmatic prompts such as: “Consider different fading systems”, “Give the game away” or “Define an area as ‘safe’, and use it as an anchor”. The cards are often used by musicians in recording studios to guide them around creative blocks.

Anne Buckwalter - Strip Poker, 2021, gouache on panel , 18 x 18 in (45.7 x 45.7 cm) photo by JSP Art Photography

“I love them so much. When I feel stuck, I shuffle the deck, pull a card, and let that dictate what happens next,” Buckwalter says. “The most recent one I pulled, when I was struggling to figure out how to organize the composition of a big painting, read: “Go to an extreme, move back to a more comfortable place.” So I made myself tussle with this large painting. And then once I got it to a place that felt good, I started working on a very small painting, and it felt like approaching it from a new angle.”
Buckwalter’s work is included in the collections of the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami; Aishti Foundation, Lebanon; Zuzeum, Latvia; X Museum, Beijing; Art Museum of West Virginia, and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, among others. Her work has also been exhibited in Boston, Montréal, Toronto, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York, and Rome, among other cities across the world.
If you’re interested in her work you can see more of it on her Artspace artist page and at Rachel Uffner Gallery. Meanwhile, follow Artspace on our social channels and sign up to our emails to be first to hear news of a very special Anne Buckwalter edition later this year.

Anne BuckwalterAnne Buckwalter photographed by Lyla Duey


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