Michelle Oosterbaan

The drawing engages the viewer with a series of parallel, rainbow-like colored lines, which radiate outward from the center of the work from at least three major focal points. The viewer is drawn into the work by the lines, which resemble bursts of energy. As we move closer, we will notice carefully, yet faintly, rendered images that take on autobiographical meaning: race horses that Oosterbaan encountered on a residency in Sartoga Springs, NY; family pets; tulips and flowers that reference the artist's Dutch ancestry, but also the fleeting beauty and fragility of life; fire representing general chaos and violence in the world but also a specific event in which Oosterbaan's life was turned upside down by a fire in her neighbor's home. The circle at center implies the metaphysical notion of the multiple connections and at times fragmented events that constitute one's life - that there is order and meaning to all of the disparity. This idea is further confirmed by the presence of the Hindu goddess of serenity which appears in the left quadrant of the drawing, ready to tame the chaotic worlds of Oosterbaan's making. The energy lines serve to convey the theme of multiple points of view in flux. The dense and colorful line work conveys the passage of time as well as the idea that memory, according to Oosterbaan, is intrinsically a visual/spatial phenomenon (notice how the line work also creates the sensation of depth). At times, the lines appear atmospherically, as if they are in the distance. In other instances, the lines app pear at close range, the color more defined. This vacillation is indicative of our own memories, our own life stories, in which fact and fiction, reality and myth coalesce.
Date of Birth
(b. 1967)
Colored pencil and graphite on paper
60 x 51 1/4 in. (152.4 x 130.175 cm.)
Accession #
Credit Line
Contemporary Art Development Fund
On View
On Loan