There is a design element to Anoka Faruqee‘s work that makes it easy to mistake for machine-generated art. Not that it matters. (They’re actually handmade.)

Her last show in San Francisco saw the artist dub her work “moire” (after the effect created when two or more offset patterns are overlaid). She splits her time between NYC and New Haven, CT, where she teaches painting at Yale University.

Hardly an underground figure anymore, Faruqee’s work retains its underground feel. It is ephemeral and visually alluring, like an op-art poster from an early ’70s head shop. Her color palette has a Middle Eastern tonality, which gives the figureless paintings their soft political underpinning. The overriding sense, however, is one of seduction and vibration. There is also a sense of shifting perspective, which renders the orderliness of the works their distinct edge. Dripped paint around the edges drives home this point of the accidental and the impossibility of lasting structure.

How does she do it?

Faruqee layers her color patterns in thick coats, then makes the notched trowels that give them their optical effect with a small rake. If a computer or other machine makes your op-art poster or lenticular print, there is still a physicality to it. Faruqee takes on the arduous task, however, of doing by hand what machines repeats easily.

Such notions may feel small for such bold abstractions; Faruqee’s work has been accused of vanity on more than one occasion. Yet the paintings revel in such small pleasures. Stoners buy blacklight posters for the sheer joy of sitting and staring. Faruqee must think there’s something to that concept. Me too. (Brian Chidester)

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