In browsing the work of Anton Haardt, you may be struck by the irony and the ecstasy of a peasant woman carrying a perfectly iced white wedding cake... on her head; or you might get caught on a crowded zocolo in a rubber plantation boomtown on market day; or you may sense the feel of, and the weight and smell of a decapitated pig's head happily being held by a small boy...
Haardt exercises a visual scrutiny of existence through the dissection of detail, inspired by the innuendo of an extraordinary childhood. She obtained and verified a reality check of her initial childhood suspicions regarding the process of living through the confrontation of anomalous experiences in the form of extensive travel. This, she filtered through a sharp and uncanny vision that usually is the stuff only of our dreams. In her work, she repeatedly reiterates that the anomaly is the reality and that it is right there right under our noses.
"Anton understands so well the perspicacity of the child in us all that she is able to transcend the passivity of pure form...she is the child conjurer. Sacks of torn paper, potato-stamp stencils and assorted stacks of cryptic images are her tools from which she plumbs talismanic messages from her own psychic depths..." (Thomas Moore, former professor and chair,art department, Huntingdon College)
The fortunate result, whether encoded in words or in images, is an object lesson you'll not soon forget:
"Haardt's images suggest figures ripped from multiple layers of wall paper in a Victorian boarding house. There is a quality of harsh reality dominating the mood, affectedly commenting on the temporality of possessions through a vivid visual perception..." (James Nelson, Birmingham art critic)
Haardt takes a labored yet loving look at a sort of post-modern pentimento: in her work for example, she may mediate the meaning of "modern" as defined in the closing decades of the century and the closing centuries of the millennium as they both collapse into each other .
The feminine residual always lurking in a metaphorical corner of Haardt's work is another example of her insistence upon a more accurate [re]presentation of reality. In the form of a transmogrified hat as icon; the visual soliloquizing of the ticking biological time bomb; or an impassioned description of the inherent importance of domesticity in a woman whose toil would otherwise have been overlooked, or worse, ignored; all is brought in to focus by the visual acuteness and poetic vision beat out so beautifully by Anton Haardt:
"When I was about seven years old, my parents sent me to art classes at the old Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, then just a two story building on Monroe Street. My teacher was Mrs., Wilkerson. 'Mammy Zora,' the woman who took care of me as a child, would accompany me a couple of times a week and we would go up to the dusty old dark classroom on the top floor of the museum with maybe ten other children. Mrs. Wilkerson would set up for each child, a still life with a figurine or two and each of us would begin to draw with a various assortment of pastels at our easels.
Mrs. Wilkerson was a small, frail, elderly woman with fly-away white hair, bony hands and dry dusty fingers, colored with the day's pastel chalks. Age had bent her frame from stooping over for so many years to examine each child's work.
I would stand at my easel and begin my drawing. I remember ceramic dogs and glazed birds would be my subjects. Of course, to a young child of seven or eight, representational rendering was difficult. But I would try, and she would come over to help me with light reflections. I remember her sitting at my easel as my picture would be near completion and draw over my picture for me, turning my original into a nice little picture complete with some shrubs in the background. The picture would have a soft artistic look, but it was not my picture! I always realized that. My picture like a pentimento, was buried deep beneath the pastel hues of Mrs. Wilkerson's drawing." (Anton Haardt)
Through the rescue of "junk" (found and her own), the accumulation of mass media images which she pirates, personalizes, then privatizes, as well as through the resuscitation of her own photography through the mediums of color xerography, transfer, and collage, there results a mutated vocabulary of appropriated imagery which frames life on the verge of extinction. A fast and furious flight through Anton's cabal is the only way to travel when you're suffering from the been there, done that, blues; She is a latchkey artist of the twenty-first century still wondering why nobody is at home, and here begins the still to be continued journey.
For more information please call: Anton Haardt at (504) 897-1172.