Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No Ordinary Garden

Solo Show of work by Mina Oka Hanig
reviewed by Jerri Castillo

I’m quite happy I didn’t read the fine print on the card advertising the show. I just looked at the image and decided it was worth checking out. It turned out her paintings were based on a series called Secret Garden in Spring and the titles contained the word blossom.

Spring Thaw I

But, I am still happy. Her work spoke of nature and elements of spring without the words. It seemed to function exactly how she wanted them to which was, ‘like words in a dictionary’ arranged on canvas, ‘like phrases in a book.’ From far away they look like painted slate squares, like they have a weight to them. Up close you are surprised to see that it is just paper, soft and delicate, painted and adhered to canvas. The canvas gives the painting its weight, it acts like the earth, it is a ground but also the ground in the painting sense of the word ‘ground.’ The papers are the figures, signifying plants and other botanical substances in addition to possessing some of their qualities such as delicate and colorful.
In looking at the show I feel like she was able to transfer the words that inspired her series into paintings, leaving the viewer able to forget the words altogether and just look at art.

Exhibition: March 4-29
Foundry Gallery
1314 18th st, NW
Washington, DC 20036

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