Sunday, May 15, 2016

Regina Scully at Octavia

"It ain't necessarily so..." So goes the eponymous George Gershwin song, one of the most lyrical take downs of traditional wisdom ever penned. More recently, cognitive scientists have asserted that what we think we see “ain't necessarily so” either, but is really more like a dumbed down version of the swirling molecules described by modern physics in much the way a map simplifies the more complex reality of the landscape it represents. But some poets and artists explore the subtle mysteries below the outer facade, and this Horizons in Space expo is Regina Scully's most recent exploration of the inner life of the world around us. Building on her earlier and denser abstract landscapes, Horizons features seemingly swirling or hovering swatches of color that allude to almost everything while revealing nothing in particular. Their vibrantly hued familiarity pulls us in, but once there we have to rely on intuition to orient ourselves in a place where the external world merges with the inner space of the imagination--a process that mimics the way we unconsciously process our everyday experiences. 

Taoists and Buddhists have been keenly aware of that process for millennia, and Scully's canvases hint at Asian landscape painting elaborated with prismatic flourishes reminiscent of European abstract art icons like Wassily Kandinsky and Hans Hofmann. In Horizon 4, above, some sweeping swatches of turquoise, lapis and emerald are punctuated with slashes of dark crimson to evoke a mythic city on the sea, a sublime floating world of space and light that contrasts with the more hierarchical intrigues seen in canvases in which landscape-like formations align themselves like liqueurs in layered drinks -- for instance in Horizon 3, above left, with its multiple stacked vistas. But in more nocturnal works like Horizon 5, top, and Horizon 11, top left, the mysterious realms that flourish in the sun's absence glow like cosmic caverns dripping with luminous rivulets of colored lights, places where the absence of clearly defined boundaries hint at potentially infinite possibilities. ~Bookhardt / Horizons in Space: New Paintings by Regina Scully, Through May 28, Octavia Art Gallery, 454 Julia Street St., 309-4249.