July 5, 2013

Karla Wozniak’s boldly colorful oil painting “Blue Mountain” is from her “This Weather Is Cosmic” show at the Gregory Lind Gallery in San Francisco.

Kenneth Baker, Galleries

Working the World into Works of Art

Wozniak weather: Berkeley native Karla Wozniak moved from Brooklyn to Tennessee a couple of years ago and - to judge by the paintings at Gregory Lind - the relocation had a liberating effect.

The show’s title - “This Weather Is Cosmic” - perfectly suits the vision put forward in it.

The skies in these landscapes serenade and shriek with lurid color, overwriting the painter’s delight at recollected sunsets with anxiety at the accelerating drift of global climate change.

Wozniak (no relation to Steve) still takes inspiration from memories of roadside views, but anecdotal details, signage and bits of architecture that used to snag the eye in her pictures have begun to dwindle. None appears in the wonderful “Blue Mountain” (2013).

Read the title and, sure enough, a blue mountain suddenly meets the eye, its profile created by a translucent layer of bright orange, draped from the panel’s top edge that also, paradoxically, describes the evening sky behind the mountain.

Streaming verticals layered in between suggest tall tree trunks, though only forking brushstrokes in greens at the left evoke vegetation. In the foreground - the word almost makes no sense in such a rambunctious composition - arcs and meanders hint at a road or a river or both.

Its bold color - which brings Howard Hodgkin to mind - can evoke the tinted shadows of day’s end, but the picture generates an inner light all its own.

Trying to describe what goes on in “Blue Mountain” and other Wozniaks, such as “Kudzu (Chapman Highway)” (2013), you get into the sort of verbal snarl that anyone experiences trying to share the astonishment of a dream. This suggests to me that Wozniak has somehow opened a channel to her work’s unconscious sources, an enviable stroke of freedom for any painter.