It is typical to pose nature and culture as opponents, to suggest that art improves upon nature, clarifies her structure, or edits her flaws. But Alice Oh’s paintings challenge us to look closer â€¹ and closer still â€¹ at nature. Each surface in her abstract pictures is a skin. On these skins are shapes and patterns, like miniscule organisms scurrying here and there. One is tempted to believe the he can see beneath this skin to giant cells which float in uncertain plasma beneath. This space is illuminated from behind, like a microscope gathering and reflecting light (and it is just such a luminous phenomenon that Ms. Oh sites as a major inspiration in her work.) Light fills the bodies of form in the compositions and, by extension, fills our bodies. Before Ms. Oh’s paintings, we are translucent transmitters of light. The distance between art and nature is further diminished by Ms. Oh’s use of organic materials (berries, soil and such) in her prints and paintings. In the end, we are left with not some artificial juxtaposition – or even a mirror held up to – nature, but an honest attempt to throw open the pristine white canvas to the bloody, dirty, gorgeous world and to use the clarity of color and texture to describe the unseeable.
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