Back to Exhibitions Dolby Chadwick Gallery

Sandy Ostrau: Confluence

Jun 6 — Jun 29, 2024

Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to announce Confluence, an exhibition of recent work by artist Sandy Ostrau.

Ostrau’s paintings instantly strike the viewer with their vivid colors and palpable texture. Indebted to her predecessors of Bay Area Figuration, the artist depicts the sublimity of California through an acute balance of representation and intrepid abstraction. Thick slabs of impasto fabricate a tapestry of geometric forms, each one wholly distinct yet simultaneously harmonious with the larger context.

Enfolded within each painting’s patchwork lies at least one figure dissolving into the surrounding landscape. Although some pieces show multiple figures, they still possess a sense of solitude. “Even when they are together, they are often alone”. In Composed Couple, we see a confluence of forms that maintain a feeling of isolated introspection. Independently observing their surroundings, they remind us that each person is “the only being that’s seeing their unique perspective.”

Rather than focusing on the specific, Ostrau distills moments down to their essence, their elementary forms. She often begins this process by creating a monochromatic sketch en plein air of fleeting moments she observes, a rendering that will later serve as a map of value. Paint is not meticulously mixed on a palette but directly on canvas. As she explores the relationship between each value and shape, the piece slowly begins to emerge. When a painting comes to a point that it feels overworked or stagnant is when Ostrau steps away to later return with fresh eyes. “A quick glance often reveals something remarkable or unexpected, something compelling that needs to be unearthed”. As she excavates, the infinite layers of color are revealed.

Ostrau uses her immediate environment as her primary inspiration. Her studio, a historic building nestled in the meadows of Sea Ranch, grants access to the diverse array of the Californian landscape: beaches, dunes, jagged cliffs, meadows, and forests. Ostrau holds true Sea Ranch’s philosophy of living lightly on the land and renders her figures in such fashion.

This latest body of work is marked by Ostrau’s signature arbitrary color and wayward shadows that refuse to be bound to earthly limitations. The artist continues to remove entire sections of paint and assign them to other parts of the composition or different pieces entirely. However, she does so more courageously than ever before, as the new work features a bold use of high chroma, a palette that is notably less atmospheric than in years past. Yet, due to her artfully frenetic process, there remains a strong sense of unity between piece and piece, body and landscape.

Sandy Ostrau was born in New Mexico and raised in Palo Alto. She studied at the Palo Art Center and the Pacific Art League after earning her BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In addition to exhibiting extensively across the United States, Ostrau has been the recipient of numerous awards for her painting, including from the Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, and the Gualala Art Center, Gualala, CA. This is her second solo exhibition at Dolby Chadwick Gallery.


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