Paintings That Get You “Thinking and Not Just Looking”

Anna Di Mezza is the unique artist whose work displaces characters from their homes in vintage photographs, jettisoning them in cold-washed mountainous landscapes, setting them in front of fresh-hewn crystals, or lunar crags, and all the way blowing them into Alice-in-Wonderland irregular proportions. Working in the Australian Blue Mountains, Anna’s background in animation and work for Sydney’s Walt Disney Television Animation Company has put her in good stead for this set of narratively suggestive but pointedly unresolved paintings.


Anna characterises her work as focusing on ‘realistic portraits’, an appropriately equivocal assessment for an artist whose influences include David Lynch and The Twilight Zone. The portrait detail is realistic enough, and the lunar landscapes, crystalline scenery, and sense of vacuum are similarly persuasive; but the merit of her work is the compelling and unreal disconnect between the two, all cast in a silver-screen haze of gelid blue.


We talked to Anna about her work, her inspiration, and the future of her medium.

The Plus: You mention David Lynch as an influence on your work; could you expand on that?
Anna Di Mezza:
I greatly admire David Lynch as a filmmaker. Watching his films is like a journey to a parallel universe, which is a theme that comes up often in my paintings. I also like the way his films are a bit open ended, as in the resolution of most of his films cannot be explained (that’s what I think anyway!). The same thing could be said about the films of Stanley Kubrick. 


TP: Your use of vintage characters and majestic landscapes is a special blend of the particular and the universal. What brings you to this sort of composition?
I’m not sure I could explain why these compositions turn out the way they do. I guess I am drawn to photos of the last century and putting them against special backgrounds like that make them more impactful and bizarre which gives them a surreal twist. 


TP: Your paintings seem to present both striking visuals and narrative teases; to what extent to you like to engage with putting ‘stories’ behind works?
I leave it up to the viewer to complete the plot. I feel there doesn’t need to be an explanation for everything. I suppose that the viewer would get more involved in that way in the artwork because they are thinking and not just looking.

TP: You seem drawn to cold colours, is there a reason for this?
A lot of the original photos I paint from are in black and white due to their age. Rather than replicate this, I like to change it slightly. Blue being a cold colour also accentuates the coolness of the backgrounds, ie: Snowy mountains, outer space etc.


TP: The image ‘closeencountersmashpotato’ with the horizontal ‘wipe’ looks almost like a screen glitch. Could you tell me a bit more about it?
I love the effect of the screen glitch. I really enjoyed painting that one as it individualized each colour in the image as a separate pure colour. It makes the painting appear half abstract. I also like the way the glitch reminds me of a barcode. Barcodes represent data. I wonder what this one would say!

TP: What place do you think painting has in the current multimedia artistic climate?
Painting is as relevant as it ever was. Just like the cinema. People expected the cinema to go away when DVDs and even downloadable films came into being. You cannot replicate the experience of entering a movie theatre with watching it on TV. The modern way of drawing using modern technology (digital) is just another tool for artistic expression. Personally, I don’t see it replacing painting.