Art New Orleans, Visionary Art, Outsider Art,
                Barrister's Art Gallery

Art New
                  Orleans, Barrister's Gallery, Outsider art, Visionary

2331 St. Claude Ave and Spain, New Orleans, LA 70113  •  504 -710 - 4506 •   Mon-Sat 10am-5pm  •  Directions

NEW WORK by Anne Marie Grgich                                   
click the image to see enlargement

Now available

Anne Grgich ~ Fight or Flight

Fight or Flight

Mixed Media on
7" x 9" paper framed
wth wood

Anne Grgich~ Masquerade


Mixed Media on
21" x 17" canvas

Anne Grgich ~ Pjara Pluma

Pjara Pluma #11

Mixed Media on
18" x 24" x 2"canvas

Anne Grgich ~ The Woman

The Woman #7
Mixed Media on
20" x 16" canvas

The Mute Siren

The Mute Siren
Mixed Media on Canvas
Anne Grgich ~ The Man

The Man #8
Mixed Media on
20" x 16""canvas
Raccoon Girl

Raccoon Girl
Mixed media on canvas
Scarlett and the Bleeding Hearts

Scarlett and the Bleeding Hearts
Mixed media on canvas

To see previously
shown work click


Anne Marie Grgich began making spontaneous art
at the age of fifteen, mostly by painting surreptitiously
on the inside pages of books in the family library,
or making collage art with basement junk. So began
the extraordinary journey with the idea of the
book as transformative vehicle and a sophisticated,
experimental artmaking process that is embodied in
the works in this her first Australian solo exhibition.
Her journey as an artist really began, though, with a
kind of physical tabula rasa caused by a car accident.

‘My childhood came to an abrupt halt in 1981,’ she says,
‘I became a child again, losing all my wits, but retaining
my child when I woke up from a coma. It’s like the
formative years were erased, forcing me to relearn
a lot over the next ten years.’ Years of turbulence
followed, with intense downs, but also ups, including
the birth of a son who remains the most important
force in her life. These were all experiences that fed,
and continue to feed into the very substance of Anne
Marie Grgich’s art. And they can be intuited in each
work by viewers who take the time to really look.

Archaeologies of the Extraordinary Everyday presents
work produced in the last five years or so, much of
which has been in a process of evolution throughout
that time. Indeed, often works are only ‘finished’ when
they begin that lonesome journey away from the artist’s
care. Broadly split into handmade books and individual
wall-pieces, the works share in common, besides an

intense humanity, luminescence and great physicality,
resulting from a creative process that typically combines
collage, painting and the use of glue and polymer resins,
often thickly applied and in multiple layers. In this way,
the resulting images appear simultaneously ancient
and amazingly fresh and contemporary. In pieces like
Chambrun (2008) and Little Miss Sci Fi (2008), for example,
the icon meets the modern vernacular, embodied in
visual texts that are expressly archaeological in character.
Pictorially, Grgich’s images operate in an almost
claustrophobically shallow space. Often a single iconic
bust confronts the viewer directly, its basic form realised
simply, as in three great works from 2009, Vale’s Cure,
Florentia or The Chi-est-a-head. Yet the simplicity of this
overall representational superstructure is a necessary
organising device for the complexity of the interdependent
units that constitute the physical object that is the
work. Florentia, for example, is essentially pieced
together from wallpaper shapes, ranging from
embossed heraldic floral designs and purple flock, that
predictably stands for itself as background, to dense
pink-flower and black-ground paper that remarkably
serves for facial skin. All of this is overlaid with paint,
printed stamps, decals, collage, glue and resin that
interweave subtly, creating a characteristically uncanny
feel, from sensuous painted lips to blue butterfly
stamps caught in the layering that culminates in the
woman’s eyes, and the strange third eye conjured
from an ethereal print of an eighteenth-century face.
The Chi-est-a-head, if anything, renders the uncanny
more deeply, in spite of its initially apparently lighter air.

The artist utilizes what has been called the Arcimboldo
effect, referring to those portraits rendered from
composites of fruit, vegetables or animals by the
sixteenth-century Italian painter, and much loved as a
device by the surrealists in the twentieth century. Thus,
the tiara is a line of little paper cut-out Chinese boys
and green horses, while the pattern on the woman’s
collar consists of two rows of schematic electrical
plugs and flex. Nothing is predictable, however, and
somehow inverted sumo wrestlers and two little
birds make up the forehead, and a ‘cooky-cutter’

label provides the smile. A small, indistinct, inverted
clown figure forms a rather more demonic third eye.
Anne once said, ‘I live a lot. And the detritus of my
pathways get funnelled into my art eventually. I’m
probably working on hundreds of things at a time, but
I don’t have time to count. Just when I finish one thing,
a ton of other things are calling my name. So much
is involved in my work and where it comes from, all
at once.’ Her working method is resolutely intuitive,
with images growing, as it were, out of the objects
close at hand. In this sense, she is akin to others like
Kurt Schwitters or Robert Rauschenberg who also, in
their own way, commandeered and transmogrified the
vernacular in their art, though without the figurative
intent of Grgich.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the small
‘Rooster’ Book (2003), which literally threatens to burst
out from the constrictions of its book-ness as a result
of the density and cacophonic physicality of its pages.
The book lies at the very centre of Grgich’s practice,
developing out of the teenage journals she kept. It was,
for a long time, the primary site of visual communication
for her, and unlike most painters who come to making
books from the production of discreet images, Anne’s
wall-pieces grew out of her books. Indeed there is often
something of the manuscript sheet, or object-to-be-held
about these ‘paintings’, as with My Cousin is Amy Grgich
(2009) and Scarlett’s Fever and (Visions) (2008) respectively.
Significantly several of the one-offs in the exhibition are
excerpts from books; that is, pages originally meant for
books but which never made it, or ones that might
yet become part of a book, for example, The Land of
the Lost (2008-09), The Turtle (2008-09), The Red Bird
(2007-09) and Yellow Butterfly Transformation Lyric (2009).

The books share in common a rugged physicality
and fragility that makes handling them an intense
experience. Every turn reveals a new marvel, a singular
work of art in itself. Yet, reaching each page is fraught
with the fear of destruction, as the object creaks, sticks
and resists the inquisitive hand. Some works develop
on the ground of an existing book, which might be
textual, as in Braille Book 4 (2000-04) – in this case the
intensely visual collides with the necessarily tactile – or,
more often in the large-scale pieces, a wallpaper sample
book, as in The Golden Arrow (2005-07). Others, like
‘Rooster’ Book are made from scratch, whilst the wittily
titled, 260 cm long Fifty-two Page Moleskin Facebook
(2008-2009) is a deconstruction/reconstruction piece
originating as an ordinary little pocket notebook.

The most obviously sculptural object in the exhibition,
The Opulent Goddess Book (2003-2009), stretches the
definition of book to its limits. Its ten pages of goddess
portraits are an orgy of encrusted jewels and other
objects, encased by two heavy wooden frames. More
‘folksy’, perhaps, than any of the other works in the
show, it is a kind of vernacular reliquary for the life
force and power of the feminine; a more obvious
symbol of the élan vital that animates all of the work.
Colin Rhodes
October 2009

Select bibliography
Rose Gonnella, ‘The Books of Anne Grgich’, Raw Vision No.
22, Spring, 1998
Chase DeForest, ‘Anne Grgich’, Folk Art Finder, Vol. 17. No.3,
July-September, 1996
Tom Patterson, Anne Grgich. Exh. Cat. MIA Gallery, Seattle,
WA, 1996
Colin Rhodes, ‘Life Pulsating, Troubled, Exalting: work by
Anne Marie Grgich’, in S. Boccalatte and M. Jones, ed.
Trunk.Volume One: Hair, Sydney: Boccalatte Pty Ltd, 2009
Betty-Carol Sellen, with Cynthia J. Johanson, Self-Taught,
Outsider and Folk Art: A Guide to American Artists, Locations
and Resources, Jefferson: McFarland & Co., 2000