Charis Ammon’s practice is focused around quotidian encounters with the urban landscape—scenes of maintenance, destruction and rebuilding. These compositions ask us to consider sites of change we often overlook or disregard. Ammon’s richly painted surfaces invite viewers into a new experience with the urban environment.
Ammon works in two sizes of canvas in order to shift the viewer’s perception of accessibility. As she has stated, “the tenderness of my small paintings gives the feeling of being a part of intimate conversation, whereas the larger paintings give a sense of being enveloped yet excluded.” The blue tarp in Weight prevents the viewer from seeing what might be present behind or beneath this construction site, while in the small painting Plastic and Daisies, there is a tangle of orange construction netting and tiny flowers by the sidewalk; everything that is present is visible. Ammon’s paintings resonate with a palpable sense of intrigue, especially when we consider the noticeable absence of people in these public spaces. The viewer, in fact, becomes a proxy for absent figures in these large- scale works.
Ammon is also part of a long history of artists fascinated by the intersection of art and everyday life. As Robert Rauschenberg famously declared “Painting relates to both art and life. Neither can be made - I try to act in the gap.” Ammon’s impetus is to move through the urban environment and photograph everyday scenes from urban life, which she then translates into paintings that depict sites of production or work, such as construction scenes or sidewalks. She operates in a pictorial space that asks us to reconsider what we may otherwise disregard or ignore. Her works offer a deeper, more emotional engagement with seemingly neutral or pedestrian urban scenes, sites quietly rich in meaning for those who pause to look.
Charis Ammon: Stay is on view at Inman Gallery through Saturday August 21, 2021.
This will be Ammon’s second solo exhibition at Inman Gallery.