Conceived on the 80th anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica,” Andrew Ooi: Genarcha reflects upon what new order hope, reconciliation, and art look like during pressing times much like the life of the iconic painting. Consisting of two-thirds sculpture – organized by BoxHeart Gallery owners, Nicole Capozzi and Joshua Hogan – Genarcha demonstrates Ooi’s expanding artistic development as he raises some questions for viewers to consider:
In today’s society, can a personal response to a current event still have a universal expression? If so, is it a symbol of rebellion or truth? Co-opted as the voice of the polemic or the people?
What about chaos. Does it (still) reduce humanity to its barest parts? Treat everyone and everything as objects? Suck the color out of life itself? Determine evolution, revolution, or both?
By regarding Pablo Picasso as the family head, or genercha, of 20th century art, Ooi undertakes such inquiry and more through a masterful interpretation of Cubism and application of pattern in his signature style. From traditionally-made Japanese gampi papers, Ooi individually cuts, creases, paints, folds, and fits hundreds to thousands of pieces together by hand to form the geometric structures and compositions to his artworks. For Genercha, interior and exterior space (physical and emotional), rebuilding after destruction, color as a sign of life and abstraction as a way to perceive reality, are some of the themes which transform “Guernica’s” panorama to dioramic - double-sided and in three-dimension – across the gallery space. Patterns suggest the pieces of torn wallpaper Picasso had originally placed on his masterpiece before deciding it should remain a painting rather than papier collé. Works not to be missed include “Equal” (2016), “Chair 2” (2016), “True Reflection” (2017) and “Daemon” (2017), embodying many of the treatments around the exhibition.
Ooi is a Canadian visual artist transposing painting with sculpture to discover novel approaches toward perspective, art, craft, and his favorite medium, paper. Self-taught in Japanese joinery and origami, he began his career in the interior design community where his light works quickly received international attention. From his successive publication in 1,000 Product Designs: Form, Function, and Technology from Around the World (Rockport Publishers) and Illuminate: Contemporary Craft Lighting (Bloomsbury Publishing), Ooi was inspired to pursue the pure arts in a direction never before realized. This led Ooi to invent his pieced-paintings technique, singular to him. Today, Ooi’s work enjoys recognition in various press (Pittsburgh City Paper, 2016), grants (Ontario Arts Council), exhibitions (Anatomy of Resilience, Karsh-Masson Gallery, 2017), fairs (Aqua Art Miami) and collections (Global Affairs Canada). Genarcha is his second solo exhibit for BoxHeart Gallery, Pittsburgh PA.