Anna Kristensen, Badlands, 2021, oil and acrylic on linen, 110.50 x 167.50 x 2.50 cm, TCG22420
(photo: Felicity Jenkins) private collection


The Badlands of South Dakota, the setting of this large painting, were named for the Native American Lakota people’s term for this arid and unforgiving landscape, mako sica. This painting is derived from a photograph the artist took on a hike there, where a black navigation pole with a reflective top acts as a sundial, its lack of shadow reveals that the image was made with the sun directly overhead at high noon. While this navigation pole marks a human-scaled point in the landscape, its inky blackness becomes a void in the bleached and eroded geology and creates an axis between the viewer’s place in the gallery and the painterly space within. In this respect, Badlands is directly in conversation with Kristensen’s seminal early work Indian Chamber, an immersive 360-degree painting-in-the round depicting an Australian limestone cavern. In Badlands, the layers of paint are built up and layered analogously to the eroded sedimentary rock itself, creating a conceptual tension that has just as much to do with the concerns of American Land Art (Walter de Maria, Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson) as the modern painterly references.

- notes on artwork by Rob Smith in conversation with the artist

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