Interview: Annette Cyr, Director of Blindness
Short Film Corner 2018
Contact: Niger Asije, Editor (

Interview: Annette Cyr, Painter and Filmmaker
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By Josef Woodard

Annette Cyr's selection of lavishly painted and boldly conceived paintings at UCSB's College of Creative Studies Gallery is a show bursting with color. The exhibition - one of the must-see shows in town this summer - is as neatly organized and thought out as the paintings themselves are sometimes unruly and flamboyant. Keen attention is paid to the arrangement and interaction of smaller round and oval paintings and larger rectangular and square paintings. It's all about balance, and the careful plotting of garden design seems a reasonable operative model in the gallery, but Cyr has much more than floral themes on her mind.
As clearly indicated by the show's title, "Tulip Mania: sex, love and Dutch flower paintings," the subject here is more than just roses (and tulips). Cyr, who earned a bachelor's degree from the College of Creative Studies and an MFA from Yale in 1981, now lives and works in New York City. In this body of work, she rather ingeniously combines various fields of interest, including the timeless and symbolic allure of flowers in art, the stubborn influence of European art history, and not incidentally, this artist's own seductively confident way with painting.
Oh, and sex. Sexuality works its way into the mix, sometimes literally, sometimes metaphorically. From Georgia O'Keeffe on back through art history, the very nature of flowers, with their alternately voluptuous and tender beauty and blossoming process, has made an easy bridge into the world of the libido.
The most pageantlike painting in this show, "Still Life with Lovers in Vase," presents a dizzy profusion - and a happy confusion - of color and form. Where plant life, lovers' anatomy and emblems of feeling start and leave off in the composition are open to viewer interpretation. "Twisted Tulip and Nude," by contrast, is one of her more tightly focused round paintings, a combination floral and nude study tidily integrated into one.
Larger rectilinear canvases, such as "Pink deli roses on gold" and "Tulips, Pomegranates and Lovers," are compositionally bustling and almost over-the-top, yet her platelike, rounded canvases present an antithesis, as exercises in control and focus. Small paintings such as "Wavy Tulip" and "White Roses" isolate specific floral examples, veering teasingly close to the tradition of semi-academic horticultural documentation. Flowers are laid out on a compositional platter, so to speak.
Still, though, Cyr works in a flower painting genre more layered and bizarre than we'd expect. She savors the inherently fantastical designs found in tulips, as a visual maniac taking on the maniacal beauty found in nature.
And just when you think she's after a simple natural-cum-cultural rationale, Cyr's larger, wilder paintings bust things wide open and complicate matters in delightful ways. In this fascinating show, abandon keeps clashing and conversing with politesse, allowing for a gregarious, warming friction beneath the attractive painterly surfaces.