Sunday, August 11, 2019

Regina Scully at Octavia

It is unusual to encounter a body of work by any artist that touches on the extremes of existence, from the macro to the micro, from the cosmos to the human form, all coexisting simultaneously together. The phrase, “As above, so below,” was once employed by ancient sages, alchemists and astrologers to explain how universal patterns repeat in ways that could apply equally to earthly minutia and human destiny. This is not taught in art school. Regina Scully's flair for fusing arcane metaphysics and modern abstraction in ethereal paintings appears here, in this latest iteration of her quest to explore how things we are conditioned to see as opposites are really aspects of the unity of all creation.

Is the visual world filled with silent music? You might think so looking at works like “Inner Journey 30,” top, where the ebb and flow of magenta, gold and earth tone slashes of paint recall not only the lyrical drama of atmospheric turbulence but also the sweep of human history, the endless parade of migration and settlement that constitute the illusion of collective national identity.

Works such as “Mindscape 21,” above, with its suggestion of volcanic activity in an other-dimensional sea, take us to the fluid topography of Scully's earlier paintings where the macro or micro forms of continents, cities and regions are interwoven into eternally fluid and floating worlds, each pulsating with the inner dramas of lives and life forms that can never be known to us. Scully's ever-experimental compositions enter a new figurative realm in “Mindscape 26” where forms that appear from a distance as painterly slashes turn out to be nomadic figures staging a procession across the canvas.

No such human presence initially appears in the horizontal sweep of elemental forces in “Mindscape 24,” but look again and at the center is a suggestion of a sailing vessel on a stormy cosmic sea, detail above, an abstract seascape that the great 19th century maritime painter J.M.W. Turner might have envisioned in his most fantastical futuristic dreams. ~Bookhardt / Regina Scully: The House I Live In, Through Sept. 28, Octavia Art Gallery, 454 Julia Street St., 309-4249.