Three artists confront inspiration

From left to right, Anne Subercaseaux, “Refl XXVIII” (detail) oil on canvas. Christina Corfield, “The Body Electric” still from video. Marcos Lafarga “Quality not Quantity” (detail) ink and graphite on paper. pictures courtesy the artists.  

The three artists questioned here, all of whom have terrific shows up now in different Oakland galleries, approach their work from vastly different places. Perhaps the only thing they do have in common is a strong sense of graphic style. I asked them each a single question targeted to their specific show.

1. Anne Subercaseaux presents Shadow and Structure, a series of paintings of the Bay Bridge based on photographs, along with the photographs of Catherine Roberts Leach at Slate Gallery. Show runs through April 28.

Obi: Where did the inspiration come from to produce paintings based on photographs of the Bay Bridge?

Anne Subercaseaux: Paintings from the Reflections: on Crossing series were inspired from commute trips I made across the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge for several years. While driving across the span, I observed the lights and shadows cast from beams and cables onto the pavement surface. The patterns and reflections became abstract compositions, which when studied in closer proximity, allowed me to focus on detail areas within a broader view. The play of light in cast patterns on the roadway, or the reflections of vertical cables onto a metallic car surface presented geometric refractions. In contrast to the frenetic traffic of the commute hour, painting these compositions allows a very different experience – finding abstractions to explore in new dimensions, and discovering and working with poetic and ethereal imagery.

2. Christina Corfield presents Follies of the Digital Arcade, a multimedia exhibition at Johannson Projects. Show runs through March 17.

Obi: This is your second show at Johansson Projects. How does this show, The Follies of the Digital Arcade, contrast with 2010’s The Velveteen Order? Is this show somehow a sequel to that show?

Christina Corfield: Since The Velveteen Order my work has increasingly focused on the intersections of how we use historical fiction to engage with issues such as the gendering of power, personal responsibility within national/ patriotic narratives and how we use technology in popular entertainment to visually process our daily experiences.

Whereas my new show isn’t a direct sequel to the work featured in The Velveteen Order, it expands those ideas as well as expands my practice from purely video work to including writing and drawing.

The biggest similarity between the shows is the theme of purposeful myth creation. Electricity had to be ‘sold’ to the public in many ways (some horrifying and some enchanting) that would lead to a belief in the force as both scientifically controllable while also attractively unknowable. This push and pull of desire is what fuels any good myth – it offers something dangerously within reach, yet ultimately unattainable.

3. Marcos Lafarga presents New Works by Marcos LaFarga, a series of new paintings at Sticks and Stones Gallery. Show runs through March 30.

Obi: Your compositions clearly rely on text as much as they do pictorial content, and yet your text is pictorial content as well. Can you describe the relationship between text, font and image in your work?

Resolving the relationship between text and image is one of the fundamental objectives in my work. I do treat the text and typography in my art as image. Illustrating type is very exciting and fun for me. I take pride in crafting the words and in my drawings the text is the main focus. A big challenge for me is combining the painterly figurative aspect with the clean graphic typographic aspects and making it cohesive. When I’m successful in combining these elements I think it’s true representation of my style, voice and point of view.


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  • Moises Aragon

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