Ángeles Agrela: Fauna at Anat Ebgi

Ángeles Agrela, Yasmin, 2022, Acrylic and pencil on paper, Fauna, Photo Courtesy of Anat Ebgi Gallery.

Spanish Artist Ángeles Agrela Dazzles at Anat Ebgi

Anat Abgi, Los Angeles
Through OCtober 15, 2022

Written by Genie Davis
Larger than life but eminently alive, the women in Ángeles Agrela’s Fauna, now at Anat Ebgi, share an uncommon trait: vividly colored and elaborately styled hair.

The accomplished Spanish artist uses the blue, orange, green, and pink hair as both mask and ritual, creating powerful female images that depict the sweeping rainbow of coifs as if they were the manes of exotic animals or the characteristic of females of an exotic species.

The bright colors and highly stylized portraiture evoke both high fashion and a pop aesthetic in equal amounts, creating a kind of alchemic architecture, a seed of colorful restlessness. As precise and perfectly painted as Agrela’s women are, they are also wild, waiting to slip off the canvas, and stride across the gallery rooms.

While the hair styles and colors are luxuriously extravagant, they also have a mutant quality, as if these women have adapted a technique of self-camouflage, allowing them the freedom to hide behind their voluminous, lush, and brilliant hair and do whatever they wish. They’ve created fierce identities, that is certain, even if half hidden behind curtains of hair, or voluptuously circled by it.

Working in both acrylic and pencil, the precision and loveliness of Agrela’s work draws viewers to these women, as she shapes their personalities and power in a realistic way. There is both mystery and allure in their faces, in the almost sensuous richness and emphasis on the subjects’ hair. Whether their hair rings their faces like a golden flower or as in “Maja,” is contained in discreet but dazzling orange braids, one is reminded of the power of hair, like that in the Biblical story of Samson. But these women defy the viewer to even attempt such an act of betrayal.

In the aforementioned “Maja,” while the subject’s gaze is downcast, and her expression somewhat passive, the artist has imbued her nonetheless with a prideful serenity. She seems to be captured in mid-walk, wearing a bright gold flowered blouse, while behind her a striped and patterned background attempts to compete with her beauty.

“Maelys,” her eyes visible through a woven mask of pink hair, gazes forward, bold and perhaps defiant. “Adelina,” her face framed by a waterfall of green hair, stares the viewer down with fierce green eyes, laser focused. Each of these works has a solid-colored background, from which the women stand out with nothing to distract our attention.

Blue-eyed “Libia” is completely wrapped with hair, as if a carefully pruned vine has nonetheless grown over her face. We do not see her expression at all with her purple hair wrapped in a loose chignon-style over her mouth and nose. Clad in a darker purple and light blue blouse with a curved, petal-like pattern, she stands out from the wall behind her, which is covered with a series of blue eyes. This pattern of eyes peering from a crisscrossed red lattice, recalls Libia’s own blue eyes.

“Avital” looks ready to protect or avenge. Her orange eyes appear to contemplate and evaluate some act of heroism or considered drama. Her orange hair form both a thin scarf or strap around her neck, and frames her eyes in a super-hero-like mask, curving over her head into a lopsided Princess Leia look. The Force is definitely with her, as it is with her potent creator.

Fauna is a tour de force of style, talent, and pop sensibility, riveting, bold, and beautiful. The exhibition is on display through October 15th at Anat Ebgi’s 4859 Fountain Ave. location in East Hollywood.

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