A Feminist Critique

Ahn Wells’ Woolie Squares 2014 from the Watt Space Anniversary exhibition 25 Watt

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In the 25 Watt catalogue, Ahn Wells readily acknowledges her debt to the 20th century Supremacist and Minimalist art movements. We viewers always brings our own stuff when considering a work, and initially, to me, the inter – connections of this particular construction with those historical movements was quite overwhelming. However, a closer reading of the work showed me that Wells has employed a light touch and use of colour that could almost be a feminist de-construction of those very male programs.

Woolie Squares most obviously bought to mind the work of Kazimir Malevich (1879 – 1935), particularly his Black Square 1915. Malevich was interested in eliminating the pictorial, representative qualities of a work, suggesting that the result was an emotional rather than intellectual response from the viewer.

And from a distance, we do see what appears to be a traditional symbol of juxtaposed squares. However, closer examination reveals the other side of her work practice, incorporating domestic materials and methods of construction that question and eventually transform our reception of the work. I am not sure where Ahn stands with regard to feminism, but I believe that this work is a feminist critique of the finest calibre.

~ Penny Finnigan December 2014