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Anne Fidler
at Disjecta Gallery, Portland, OR
Recommendation by Richard Speer

As polar as the worlds of contemporary art and professional sports would seem, both are extraordinarily competitive and reward their top stars with fame and big money. The realms come together in Anna Fidler’s 'The Game,' which displays a vibrant artist at the top of her own game. An avid fan of the Portland Trailblazers basketball team, Fidler is best known for her fantastical abstracted landscapes fashioned from layered construction papers. Here, she leaves the 3D layering element behind in favor of mixed-media drawings and paintings on paper. In Trailblazer portraits such as 'LA (LaMarcus Aldridge),' she deconstructs the contours of the players’ faces into meandering, Etch A Sketch-like lines, and turns the celebrity visages into grotesque chromatic riots:  baby blue hair, green teeth, eyes of eerie orange and red, and cobalt blue skin. The portraits are so distorted, they appear to be several levels of separation away from their subjects — as if they had been painted from a Polaroid of a fax of a newspaper picture. This technique lends the works a disembodied, slightly spooky quality, accentuating the distance between the viewer and these stars, who in their milieu are regarded as near-mythic heroes. This spectral quality continues in the large-scale works, action shots such as a player making a slam dunk ('Oden Dunking') and being interviewed by the press ('Rasheed with Mics'). The ghostly remove is most acute in 'Injured Brandon Roy,' which depicts a coach kneeling over an injured player. Fidler imbues the scene with a sense of the uncanny, lending it a Pietà-like aura of religious visitation. To use a populist sport as a point of departure for a series of fine-art portraits and tableaux is no small task, yet Fidler has dispatched it with invention and moxie.

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