20 May 2024

Near and Elsewhere

Annabell Häfner’s paintings
capture liminal spaces


by Kate Mothes

In 1995, French anthropologist Marc Augé coined the term “non-place” in his book Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. He explores the nature of roadways, hotel rooms, airports, or supermarkets as liminal spaces where the concerns and nuance of people’s identities and backgrounds—and many social norms—are absent or altered.

For Annabell Häfner, non-places inform a series of paintings called beautiful view, which find form in transitory, temporal experiences, all viewed from a similar vantage point. Loosely delineated spaces merge with their surroundings, blurring the boundary between inside and outside, and revealing ambiguous landscapes. Impersonal furniture like benches appear along the geometric suggestions of walls, while moving toward the distance beyond, there is a sense of external and internal experience occurring simultaneously.

Häfner’s paintings for her show Near and Elsewhere, at Tara Downs Gallery in New York, repeat a similar motif that suggests the same place over and over again, transformed by light or time, or the universality of many places that look very similar. Each painting might represent how, in our ever more globalized society, ubiquitous yet anonymizing spaces like airports or waiting rooms can look the same just about anywhere. The artist mediates a sense of here-and-now while hinting at what may lie beyond—sometimes a spectral silhouette of a mountain, hills, or clouds—saying, “In these spaces, a yearning for presence, belongingness, and self-reflection emerges—an aspiration for a sanctuary, a safe space, and an escape.”

Near and Elsewhere continues through June 8. Find more on the artist’s Instagram.

beautiful view 4, 2024. Acrylic and chalk on canvas, 67 × 51 1/4 inches
beautiful view 2, 2024. Acrylic and chalk on canvas, 69 × 61 inches
Installation view, Tara Downs Gallery, New York
beautiful view 9, 2024. Acrylic and chalk on canvas, 57 × 51 1/4 inches
beautiful view 25, 2024. Acrylic and chalk on canvas, 27 1/2 × 31 1/2 inches
Installation view, Tara Downs Gallery, New York

Header image: Detail of beautiful view 27, 2024. Acrylic and chalk on canvas, 31 1/2 × 27 1/2 inches

All images © Annabell Häfner

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