Los Angeles-based photographer and graphic designer Anyes Galleani has been mixing and re-mixing genres for several decades. Born and raised in Italy, Galleani made the pilgrimage to the LA Arts District pursuing a career in fashion photography. She created portraits for the likes of Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Paramount Pictures. Soon, however, her ambitions pushed her to innovate new ways to portray her unique visions of the people and landscapes of her adopted city.
These visions, as she has developed them, have become a dynamic mash-up of classical portrait photography, self-referential advertising copy and abstract color theory. Pollackesque splashes of bright orange and blue paint are layered over stylized images of women smoking cigarettes, posing both triumphantly and ironically for the various brands that dominate our public consciousness.
Abstraction reigns: those of her beloved LA and New York, where technicolor blues, yellows, and oranges create glowing skylines. These urban scenes are devoid of people, cars, and street life, giving an eerie vision of our major cities as beautiful but empty masses of buildings, bridges, and roadways, in contrast to the intimate style of her human portraits.
Galleani has spoken of her fascination for faces. Her female subjects are often balanced on the extraordinarily delicate edge between protecting and exposing themselves, between strength and vulnerability. These portraits present the divided identities of their subjects. The ethereal beauty of each model is set against the masks they wear, masks that point to a deeper conflict between that distracting beauty and the facade they project. These images would seem to express a certain ambivalence about an advertising industry that offers women fame and success while also packaging their bodies into mere commodities to be bought and sold.
Across Galleani’s work, the effect is one of a riot of color, shape, and text, as she layers textured paper, printed text, silk, aluminum, and splatters of bright paint over her photographs. And in purposefully recalling the ripped and tattered style of street art, she succeeds in capturing much of the energy and gritty sophistication of modern urban life.