The Feminist Power of Beauty

Sarah Ann Weber, “Return no more” (2021), oil and colored pencil on panel, 72 x 96 inches

LOS ANGELES — I was recently on the East Coast for the first time in years, and I was stunned by the emerald landscape. Everywhere I looked, verdant trees towered, the likes of which simply do not exist where I live in Southern California. What Los Angeles has is the exoticism of desert plants, which defy imagination with their varied hues and surprising adaptations. Strong Blossoming Thing Forever, Sarah Ann Weber’s current exhibition at Anat Ebgi in Culver City, is a profusion of flora that evokes a coral reef on land, conjured in a color palette rich and tender, never blasting out its notes. The show includes works in paint and colored pencil, on either panel or paper. Female figures appear among the vegetation, featureless nudes whose empty forms are either blank or filled with leaves, vines, and flowers.

Weber’s floral landscape work emerged for the first time in 2017, at the now-closed Club Pro. At the time I was arrested by the energy in her packed, jungle-like overgrowths, more phantasmagoric than real. While you will not find any of Weber’s flowers in a field guide, she tells me they are inspired by frequent hikes around Los Angeles. Growing up in Chicago, she developed a love for the landscape by visiting the Fullersburg Woods with her family, where they would ride bicycles or hike in the summer and cross-country ski in the winter.

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