In A Summer Place with Anna Di Mezza September 17 2020

Anna Di Mezza is a painter who currently resides in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. Her works are surrealistic in nature, playing with perspective and combining subject matter with unexpected backgrounds resulting in bizarre visual narratives. Inspired by vintage photos, Anna likes to depict what appear to be stills from a surrealist film – challenging viewers to make up their own interpretation of the plot. Her paintings seem to straddle a fine line between humour and horror.

Anna first exhibited with us in July 2019, with her show Heaven's Gate.

Interview by Louise McIntosh. Photos supplied by Anna Di Mezza.

Welcome back Anna! So lovely to be showing you again. Are you able to walk us through the title of your exhibition In A Summer Place? Any personal attachments to summer or the feeling that summer invokes?

Thank you! I am so excited to be showing again at the gallery. I have worked for the better part of a year towards the show and am pretty happy with the results. My pieces for this year's show seem to have a common theme for the most part. That is, summer, sunset, light and heat. Also the song In A Summer Place invokes nostalgia from the 50s which suit the pieces that have been derived from 1950s and 60s references.

This body of work features people acting out scenes in their daily lives: things appear normal, but when you peer closer, you see that things are askew. What role do people play in your narratives?

Yes, the scenes seem normal but there is something not quite right about these settings. I invite the viewer to have a closer look for little surprises within. Things are not so cut and dried in our lives, therefore I wanted to invoke the same idea. People/human presence play a starring role in my narratives as our dramatic daily lives pretty much are my main focus.

Who do you admire as a creator? How does this influence your concepts and work?

I admire filmmakers such as David Lynch, Alfred Hitchcock and, my favourite, Stanley Kubrick. Not only are the visual aspects of the films visually arresting, but the stories are very much on another plane concerning a lot of the dark sides of the human condition. My favourite artists would have to be Magritte, Hopper and De Chirico - they to me embody the metaphysical aspects of humanity in their work. Something I aspire to in my paintings.

We love how you aptly title your originals. Can you share any secrets into this process?

I have a notebook where I write down things that inspire me. They may be snippets of conversations, words that appeal to me, bits of poetry or lyrics. I may use these words to form titles to go with my work, otherwise if I'm lucky, a title will come to me quickly whilst working on a painting, more often than not, an ironic one.

In A Summer Place introduces works done in monochromatic tones. Do you enjoy the constraints of working in this way? 

My paintings are influenced by the Mid Century, so some of them naturally would lend themselves to the black and white aesthetic, like an old family photograph. Yes, I enjoyed the limitations of a monochromatic palette. It helped me focus on light and tonal values.

I'm very curious to hear more about the backstory behind Going Clear. Are you able to tell us a bit about your process, from the germination of the idea to the finished artwork?

'Going Clear' is a Scientology term - a man-made term implying a connection to metaphysics. I played upon the word 'clear' by erasing the women's faces. It reminds me of the Surrealist Dali's sense of humour. 

Which piece was your personal favourite, and which was the most enjoyable to paint?

My personal favourite would have to be 'Passage' due to the duality of horror and normalcy present in the one image. One simple change in the placement of the building completely turned the once innocent image of a typical American 1950s family completely upside down on its head. It's like a happy accident. :) The one I had the most fun painting was probably 'Bond', simply because I had painted this one in a looser style than I normally do, so it flowed along nicely.

What do you hope viewers may take away from this collection?

I hope people appreciate and enjoy the aesthetics of a simpler time that I try to convey in my work, as well as try to look for something deeper in their own personal interpretation of the work.

Thank you, Anna! We are very excited to share your new body of work.