Review: Anser’s #crowdedkingdom at #hashtag gallery

Last night I went to the first solo show in six years of Anser: night painter and graffiti artist.

I’ve been snapping photos of his work for years. In fact, here are two that I took earlier in the day in my neighbourhood:

I could have sworn I had seen this one before, but today it seemed so new  

#thoseeyes, as I labelled them before I knew who the artist was, seemed like a sort of guardian angel when I first started to notice them. It was like they would show up around the city at the moment when I most needed to feel grounded. This might seem a bit much, but Anser’s faces, and especially their eyes, are deeply tied to my identity. They signify home. Coming back from vacations never feels right until I see #thoseeyes in my neighbourhood. This blog, which has been a part of my life since 2007, has hosted Anser faces in its header numerous times. My nephousin (son of my cousin, who’s like a Brother), when he was two, would look through Instagram with his dad and would recognize that Anser images meant something to me… so much so that for my birthday he coloured in a photo that his Grandma had drawn of #thoseeyes. (photo to come of this adorableness once I find it!).

Many people contacted me about Anser’s show. Of course I knew about it. I had known about it since the day Anser announced the show on Instagram. Of course I was going. How could I not? But at 630 pm, as I was getting ready to go, I was washed over with a huge sense of dread and anxiety. I no longer wanted to attend.

What was going on? I was ‘tired’, but really, looking back, I think I just didn’t want to demystify #thoseeyes. I worried about the possibility of meeting Anser and that the allure of his secrecy would be gone…

This wasn’t the case for everyone. I used to think I was the number one fan of Anser’s faces… but after being convinced that I ‘had to be there’ and got off my ass in the freezing cold and arrived at the gallery in the flurry of early art buyers, I realized I was nowhere CLOSE. There were people there who were so elated and excited to be in the presence of so much Anser work they looked like they were going to explode.

And that satisfies me in a sort of bizarre art-snob kind of way.  I feel really calm in my constant appreciation of Anser’s work.  So here’s my interpretation of how I saw that night…

I have intentionally been non-all-encompassing in these shots. I focused on the pieces that evoked emotion for me, and tried not to capture them in their entirety because I really believe you should go see them for yourself, especially if you’re a fan.  The show continues until March 9th at #Hashtag Gallery, located at 801 Dundas St. W.

To see the work of an artist whose creations are normally so transient and temporary installed in a space where they can be captured by hundreds of people, and sold to individuals, to be kept in their homes forever is sort of surreal.  Of course I’m incredibly happy for Anser because years of incredible street art is being rewarded with a show that I’m SURE will sell out in its opening night. And seeing that Anser is starting to collaborate with other artists like Big Trubble is super exciting, but I can’t help but think it’s just not the same as when they’re not being thrown up on a wall in a moment of rebellion and cover…

But don’t get me wrong. It’s an incredible show. It was well worth the freezing toes and drippy nose:

#crowdedkingdom at #hashtaggalleryThe pieces that welcome gallery visitors first are four massive ones that are brick-on-wood, which Anser has tagged in his signature, single-line style, but what I noticed was that there wasn’t as much differentiation in the thin and thick lines in these pieces. The flow and pace wasn’t as apparent… and they were a beautiful thing that will look incredible on someone’s wall, but they just don’t thrill me in the same way that sightings like this always will:

Anser before Board Meeting

Good luck to you, Anser!

Love from one of your thousands of ‘Number One Fans’.


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