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Review: Horizons in Space at Octavia Art Gallery

Abstract explorations from Regina Scully



"It ain't necessarily so," goes the George Gershwin song, one of the most lyrical takedowns of traditional wisdom ever penned. More recently, cognitive scientists have asserted that what we think we see "ain't necessarily so" either, but is more like a dumbed-down version of the swirling molecules described by modern physics — in the way a map simplifies the more complex reality of the landscape it represents. Some poets and artists explore the subtle mysteries below the outer facade, and this Horizons in Space expo is Regina Scully's most recent reflection on the inner life of the world around us. Building on her earlier and denser abstract landscapes, Horizons features 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 everyday experiences.

  Taoists and Buddhists have been aware of that process for millennia, and Scully's canvases hint at east Asian landscape painting elaborated with prismatic flourishes reminiscent of European abstract art icons such as Wassily Kandinsky and Hans Hofmann. In Horizon 4, sweeping swatches of turquoise, lapis and pale 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 landscapelike formations align themselves like liqueurs in layered drinks. In Horizon 6, multiple stacked vistas look like the Southwest's striated mesas. In more nocturnal works like Horizon 11 and Horizon 5 (pictured), the mysterious realms that flourish in the sun's absence glow like cosmic caverns dripping with luminous rivulets of many-colored lights, places where the absence of clearly defined boundaries hints at infinite possibilities.

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