DARLA BJORK (Gallery 1)
Opening Friday, May 24, 6-9PM.
On view May 24 – June 23, 2019.
Text by Maeve M. Hogan
SOHO20 is pleased to announce the opening of Weaving: Tight and Loose, a new collection of Darla Bjork’s characteristically expressive encaustic and oil stick paintings.
This show brings together works from the last three years in which Bjork has connected her abstract painting style to a tradition of female labor and artistry in her family. The grid-like visual layout structuring the weaving series consciously evokes the warp and weft of the woven rugs Bjork watched her maternal grandmother make as a child. These works are gentler than the scored and scared works Bjork has produced in recent years. The dense interlocking layers of paint are built over each other, in some cases dictated by the choice of surface, of canvas rather than board.
The series incorporates both tightly woven pieces like Anna’s Rug, a direct reference to her grandmother’s weaving, and looser pieces with more movement, such as Leaving Earth. In Anna’s Rug the warp and weft are balanced, controlled; there is little dimensionality and the surface presses forward against an invisible plane. In contrast, Leaving Earth, the most recently completed piece in the series, shows a deliberate choice to engage with illusionary visual depth to “loosen up” the weave structure as the striking crimson lines reach simultaneously deeper into the canvas and out at the viewer.
Bjork’s weavings, like her grandmother’s, are more than decorative, their value is created by the process, the physical and emotional labour with which they are imbued. Bjork’s dimensional and physically expressive work has in recent years engaged with everything from contemporary politics to botany and personal grief. Although she engages with a diverse range of subject matter Bjork’s painting is consistently expressive, upfront about its role as a mode of processing, an artistic catharsis. In the Weaving series, Bjork also reckons with mortality, physical illness, and new celestial imaging.
Darla Bjork is an artist as well as a retired psychiatrist. Her paintings have been exhibited in New York City and abroad. She draws inspiration from her own experiences, the landscapes of Woodstock, New York, and her native Minnesota. To view more of her work visit www.darlabjork.com, or @darlabjork, on Instagram.