Boxheart Gallery celebrates its 12th annual Artist of the Year with an alluring show by Kuzana Ogg. The title, Kuzana Ogg: Urbane, refers to the show's refined and elegant manner, and alludes to its depiction of urban structures. The Northern California-based artist, selected from among 400 applicants, finds her personal identity within this work, making connections to the experience of living in such different places as Bombay, New York and South Korea.
Ogg transposes microscopic biology, plant life and urban structures into a pulsating laboratory of our humanity. The artist is interested in creating a highly reflective surface with total attention to color interplay. Combinations of disparate forms, the rarefied color (juxtaposed or layered), as well as the precise draftsmanship, distinguishes the work.
The show includes 22 paintings, five pastels and two fabric "sketches." It spans a continuum from bleak cold scenes of a maleficent no-man's-land ("Springvale Rd.") to explosions of color depicting ripe mango trees ("Sujeonghwa"). In a flattened painting like "Harkness Rd.," the artist describes the harmonic relationships between herself and the outside world. Overall, symmetry is avoided and traditional perspective is eschewed.
Ogg explores the idea that biological and botanical entities share fundamental similarities. In paintings such as "Eeb," "Hehdoh" and "Gulahba" we witness stained purple organelles and cells undergoing meiosis as well as long curling translucent capillaries. One is reminded of opalescent jellyfish and watery environments bursting with life.
Ogg also offers simulations of office buildings or domestic structures. The structures, in neutral colors of grey and dark purple, are folded back on themselves like origami. Via email, Ogg writes that these images may concern land being reapportioned and houses modified to suit new generations of families.
The viewer finds him/herself intrigued by Ogg's process, which may include up to 15 layers of oil paint. The paint may be dropped, rolled, splashed, thinned or blotted. Often the artist employs uniform disks of various colors to construct forms. These create rhythms and might symbolize fallow fields or newly planted seedlings.
The originality of Ogg's work and its aesthetic beauty are good reasons to see the show. The sensitivity to life's fragility, the variety of the work and its spiritual qualities far exceed its detractions. This is an artist who is well aware of her uniqueness, and the work seethes with vitality.