Art @ PARC: 3 + 3 = 44 by Maria Lobo






Art @ PARC: 3 + 3 = 44 by Maria Lobo

Maria Lobo's exhibition features 3 signature techniques on 3 surfaces -- canvas, paper, and wood -- and includes 44 artworks.

Maria's work is like a vignette into another world, another dimension. 

She has always incorporated three main themes in her art: rendering of negative space; patterning; and putting order on chaos. Using this vocabulary, Maria creates mixed media works on paper, canvas, and wood. It wasn’t until recently that she really understood why.

Although trained in Western art methods and Western art history, Maria's work is definitely informed by her multicultural and Asian roots.  Born and raised in Asia and exposed to Asian traditional paintings most of her life, these visuals and techniques readily appear her work, whether it be Chinese symbols, references to mythology, the application of paint, use of materials, or creating dimension by layering of shapes and overlapping forms to create distance and depth on a flat surface.

Often, Maria's focus is on painting the background, or negative space, not the foreground. She attempts to organize abstraction or chaos.  Her forms seem to float in space, but through their placement, creating balance. By patterning and rendering negative space around the forms, she somehow encapsulates them. She is creating forms in specific reference to their placement, depth, and spatial relations to one another. Viewers might ask themselves: what is the form and what is the ground?  This is at times intentionally ambiguous.  Maria tends to vacillate between both dimensions.  Her search for balance within the painting’s own depth, surface, and vertical-horizontal orientation may come from her search for her own placement in this world: geographically, socially, ethnically, culturally, in space and time.

Maria incorporates materials in a spontaneous way, using whichever material works visually at the time.  She might incorporate antique Japanese papers, Chinese ink, gold leaf, and acrylic paint, all on one canvas. She works intuitively.  The work itself informs her next move.

Sometimes her canvases are split into halves or thirds. This is another reach for balance. It may be an East-West balance, or a hard-soft balance, or a dark-light balance, or a wild-calm balance.  For example, in the ink work, one can see ink splashes on one side and patterning with acrylic paint on the other.  This is a reflection of herself in many ways.

In addition to the three themes of negative space, patterning, and putting order on chaos, her portfolio is divided into three techniques.

         -Waterworks: Patterned undulating forms suggest flowing water and reflections
         -Graphic Organic Ink:
 Abstract ink brushwork with balancing graphic forms
         -Stepping Stones and Circles:
 See statement about this collection below

In her studio practice, Maria develops these different types of imagery simultaneously and moves freely between them.  

Maria is often asked how can she work in a variety of styles, over the years. She is always surprised by this question. To her, she is constantly working with the same artistic vocabulary.  Whether creating leaf patterns, silhouettes of her ancestors, circular forms or watery lines, she is always saying the same thing:  where do we fit in time and space?  The specific changes in motifs seem to have arisen out of her international moves. The figures came about after a move back to Hong Kong from San Francisco in 1994. Ten years later, the leaf motif appeared when she moved to Vancouver, Canada. Five years later, the water and stones came when she moved from Vancouver back to the San Francisco Bay Area where she is now based.

Stepping Stones and Circles Collection 

Living in Barcelona, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Vancouver (1986 – 2008), Maria has always lived with a constant proximity and instant access to the ocean. She has unintentionally recreated a relationship with water, by representing watery images in her artwork. This is instantly apparent in her Waterworks Collection, created simultaneously with Stepping Stones.

In her most recent collection Stepping Stones, all her typical themes appear. These works evolved somewhat by accident.  Maria started painting on long, vertical strips of canvas, about 70 inches in height.  Without realizing it initially, she discovered later that these long canvas panels echo the Chinese scroll paintings, on silk and paper, that she had seen most of her life.

The circular shapes evoke water, or raindrops, or the flow of water. What is reflected or magnified in them is a mystery and up to the imagination of the viewer. Personally, she sees mountains and cities. The circular motif, which appears often in her work, is a unifying element. These shapes help her to gather up and unite visual information, and organize the abstraction.  The way the shapes are so clearly defined comes from this strong urge to organize and clarify.

Maria's circular patterns attempt to unify and put a sense of order on chaos. They are a meditation of Zen circles. The abstracted shapes are positioned in stable, balanced pattern. She is thinking of: perpetual motion; endless spiraling; infinity; interlinking; inter-connectedness; inter-relatedness; intersections; tumbling coins and abundance; abstracted Venn diagrams about belonging, or not. The layering of pigment is the layering of time and space.

The title of this collection also echoes the themes revisited often in her work. Where are we? Where are we going? We are all defining our placement in this world. We are always on a path somewhere, whether it is a new project, job, place, or even our attempt to reach a sense of peace, heaven, or nirvana.

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