New American Paintings/Blog


Power of Presence: Anna von Mertens at Elizabeth Leach by openstudiospress
January 27, 2011, 1:05 pm
Filed under: Art World, Portland | Tags: , , ,

ABOVE: Bacchus’ Aura, After Caravaggio , 2009 | Hand-stitched, hand-dyed cotton, 39.75 x 33 inches. BELOW: Anna von Mertens, Kurt Cobain’s Aura (Zoe’s), After Elizabeth Peyton, 2009 | Hand-stitched, hand-dyed cotton, 13.75 x 11 inches. Images courtesy Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR.


Anna Von Mertens‘ hand-dyed and stitched cotton aura portraits are both haunting and exuberant. Portraits, her solo exhibition of works at Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, Oregon are the result of the artist’s study of aura reading applied to canonical portraits from art history, ranging from depictions of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa to Warhols’s Marilyn. Her works reveal Rothko’s proof that color is spiritual, and their spiritual power resonates as a chromatic relationship between warm and cool tones. Through a multi-layered dyeing process, finished by meticulous hand-stitching, von Mertens keeps the silhouette of each original portrait, adding the locations of each subject’s chakras. More after the jump.  —Kelli Rule, Portland contributor

Anna von Mertens, Madame X’s Aura, After John Singer Sargent, 2009 | Hand-stitched, hand-dyed cotton, 83 x 43.25 inches. Courtesy Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR.


According to the art of aura reading, warmth is equated with “the power of presence”—the subject’s physicality. Coolness reflects the inner life;  feeling, intuition, and uncertainty. Madame X’s Aura, After John Singer Sargent, for example, is immediately striking, with its hot reds depicting Madame X as a powerful, sexually charged personality. In contrast, Pope Julius II’s Aura, After Raphael is rather elusive with colors that fold in on themselves. The feeling from the originals and von Merten’s companions are exactly the same. As well, their pure pulsing color is intoxicating to look at.

Kelli Rule is a writer based in Portland.

Anna von Mertens, Pope Julius II’s Aura, After Raphael, 2009 | Hand-stitched, hand-dyed cotton, 42 x 31.75 inches. Courtesy Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR.

Anna von Mertens, Girl with a Pearl Earring’s Aura, after Johannes Vermeer, 2009 | Hand-stitched, hand-dyed cotton, 17.75 x 15.25 inches. Courtesy Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR.


Anna Von Mertens, Philip IV of Spain’s Aura, After Velázquez, 2009 | Hand-stitched, hand-dyed cotton, 24.75 x 20.75 inches. Courtesy Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR.


Anna Von Mertens, Aura Self-Portrait, After Vincent Van Gogh, 2009 | Hand-stitched, hand-dyed cotton, 25.5 x 21.25 inches. Courtesy Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR.


Anna Von Mertens: Portraits is on view at Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR through February 12, 2011.

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Nice work!

Comment by Linda Smith

These are insanely rad.

Comment by chris

this work is absolutely stunning!

Comment by Mark wissinger




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