Introducing the Express’ New Arts Writer, Obi Kaufmann

Plus, three artists confront inspiration.

My name is Obi Kaufmann and, for the foreseeable future, I will be your guide through the vibrant, demanding, sometimes ruthless and always surprising world of visual art in the East Bay. I grew up here and am intimately familiar with the scene. I have managed a few galleries, have had shows of my own paintings, curated group shows, co-created Live Art Wednesdays, and have been running an arts blog for nearly six years: I plan on offering up a cornucopia in my weekly contributions, including interviews, surveys, bios, previews, and, of course, reviews.

There are three terrific Oakland shows right now, and the artists approach their work from vastly different places. Perhaps the only thing they have in common is a strong sense of graphic style. I asked them each a single question.

1. Anne Subercaseaux presents Shadow + Structure, a series of paintings of the Bay Bridge based on photographs at Slate Contemporary Gallery (473 25th St., Oakland, 510-652-4085, Show runs through April 28.

Obi: Where did the inspiration come from to produce paintings based on photographs of the Bay Bridge?

Anne Subercaseaux: While driving across the span, I observed the lights and shadows cast from beams and cables onto the pavement surface. In contrast to the frenetic traffic of the commute hour, painting these compositions allows a very different experience — finding abstractions to explore in new dimensions, and discovering and working with poetic and ethereal imagery.

2. Christina Corfield presents Follies of the Digital Arcade, a multimedia exhibition at Johansson Projects (2300 Telgraph Ave. Oakland, 510-444-9140, Show runs through March 17.

Obi: This is your second show at Johansson Projects. How does this show contrast with 2010’s The Velveteen Order?

Christina Corfield: Since The Velveteen Order my work has increasingly focused on the intersections of how we use historical fiction to engage with issues such as the gendering of power, personal responsibility within national/patriotic narratives, and how we use technology in popular entertainment to visually process our daily experiences. Whereas my new show isn’t a direct sequel to the work featured in The Velveteen Order, it expands those ideas as well as expands my practice from purely video work to including writing and drawing.

3. Marcos LaFarga presents New Works by Marcos LaFarga, a series of new paintings at Sticks + Stones Gallery (815 Broadway, Oakland, 510-689-1280, Show runs through March 30.

Obi: Can you describe the relationship between text, font, and image in your work?

Marcos LaFarga: Resolving the relationship between text and image is one of the fundamental objectives in my work. I do treat the text and typography in my art as image. Illustrating type is very exciting and fun for me. A big challenge for me is combining the painterly figurative aspect with clean graphic typography and making it cohesive. When I’m successful in combining these elements, it becomes a true representation of my style, voice, and point of view.


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