Creating a conservatory from paintings and industrial materials, Keren Anavy responds to the late-fall season at Wave Hill in her site-specific installation Garden of Living Images. Suspended from the ceiling, groupings of abstract paintings on translucent Mylar dip into shallow pools of ink and correspond to the changing colors and forms of Wave Hill’s plants—especially at the Aquatic Garden. The light shining in through the multi-color, cellophane-covered windows further transform the space into an insular, imagined environment. With mark-making that incorporates deliberation and the element of chance, Anavy considers the relationship between decision-making and the natural and unexpected processes that occurs in a garden—a cultivated landscape.

Sources of inspiration for Anavy’s paintings include the burgundy color of the pom-pom-like seed heads of the orange peel clematis (Clematis tibetana), a climbing vine in Wave Hill’s Flower Garden, and the way the clusters of seeds eventually break apart and drift away. Anavy’s process begins by placing Mylar on the floor and creating gestural marks with water on the surface. She then injects colored ink into the water—allowing mixtures to form organically—and adds colored pencil to the composition. The ink in the pools is slowly absorbed by the Mylar paintings throughout the exhibition. Anavy also employs light as a medium. It continuously changes as it shines through the colored windows. She describes these paintings as “organized structures as well as wild nature that is stripped down to its most abstract form.”

Anavy’s artificial garden references hanging Chinese scrolls and the longing for an imagined territory, such as the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Interested in how gardens reflect the connections between nature and culture in Eastern and Western societies, Anavy explores the meanings and purposes of gardens as sites of reflection and retreat—“pockets of nature” within urban landscapes. In conjunction with her installation, Anavy collaborates with Valerie Green/Dance Entropy on Utopia, a site- specific performance about the creation and destruction that occurs in a utopian society. It features dancers and pillars painted by Anavy.

Garden of Living Images is Anavy’s first, formal, solo exhibition in the United States and is is featured in the 2022 book Transnational Belonging and Female Agency.