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June 2 - July 14, 2007 at Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica

by John O'Brien

Audra Weaser with “Undercurrent” and Soojung Park with a collection of works titled “Passera,” share a love of abstraction, and both reveal a refined ability to coax perceptual nuances from color and surface.

Weaser's paintings are the result of a labor-intensive process. First, she paints an entire image, usually drawing both from her memories of the past and on images culled from nature. Once she has completed the painting, she goes back over the canvas with one final layer of thick white paint that entirely covers and buries the image. Finally, she proceeds to sand and scrape away at the top white surface revealing bits and pieces of the images obscured below. She stops short of uncovering it, but allows slivers and masses to emerge.

Acrylic paint, with its peculiar plasticity has been sanded, scraped, gouged and otherwise manipulated through subtraction for decades, but usually it has been done in the service of a more general decorative capacity. What Weaser has done is to link the way the paint below is revealed to the way in which perception is both a real sensory reaction and the workings of memory. The viewer's mind leaps into the white spaces between the fragments and completes the perceptual loop without really having anything to go on.  Here the only driving force seems to be an urgent sense that visual circuits come full circle. So the viewer is drawn into a story that is present but obscured. Narratives and plausible scenes unfold a few different times before one realizes that it is the ghost of our own desire for stories that is fueling the curious cycle into which we have been drawn. Seductive as surfaces, suggestive as pictorial images onto which we project our own phantasms, the paintings in “Undercurrent” are captivating and entrancing.

Audra Weaser, "Gold Dust," 2007,
mixed media paint on panel, 60 x 56".

Audra Weaser, "Holy Hell," 2007,
mixed media paint on panel, 36 x 24".

Audra Weaser, "Levitating Green," 2007,
mixed media paint on panel, 60 x 56".

Soojung Park, "Moss Box," 2007,
mixed media, 36 x 23".

Soojung Park, "Separate Echos,"
2007, mixed media, 19 x 30".

Soojung Park, "Song Album,"
2007, mixed media, 28 x 22".

Soojung Park's works are also the result of a labor-intensive process. She creates additive artworks that are made up of acrylic sheets and inks. First, her transparent sheets are cut to size and then they are sanded or abraded by sand blasting or scratching. She also etches them with precise horizontal lines and takes advantage of the material by working on both sides of the clear sheets. After preparing these surfaces, she then rubs them with various colored pigments and inks, working with the minute topographical variations on each surface to coax the colors so that they range from soft, almost transparent washes to solid, more saturated colors. Finally she arranges the panels individually or in groupings, titling them with evocative ambiguity. The results confound one’s perceptual neutrality, making us work (happily) to understand where the light is coming from.

The normally indistinct acrylic sheets, enlivened by the micro-textural dispersion of the colors applied to them, become imbued with an almost tactile attraction. The particulate light patterns move from a thick saturation to a light floating sensation. In a work like "Song Album", the horizontal bands run a gamut of color from a solid moss green/blue bar to a hazy yellow/brown band. The transition from each colored sub-section to the next invites and beckons the viewer's participation. Like a flickering vertical zoetrope, the light on this color field horizon falls and rises and falls again. Thus one becomes infatuated with and engrossed in the detail, complexity and subtlety of the works with which Park has populated the works in Passera. The overall compositions of Park’s colored light spaces are frankly and sensuously beautiful; the effects achieved are exquisitely calibrated.