C’ville Art Blog: Lindsey Obergs’s encaustic allegories

Detail of an encaustic painting by Lindsey Oberg. Detail of an encaustic painting by Lindsey Oberg.

The dreamlike encaustic collages of Lindsey Oberg currently on display at Mudhouse on the Downtown Mall have a soft, ethereal quality. The medium is unusual, and something not seen very often. It is indicative of an artist who has experimented with and fully understood her medium of choice. Although collage can often become flat and heavy, these paintings create vast spaces and landscapes with a surreal, kitschy mystical vibe.

The images are collages with thick layers of encaustic wax and oil paint on the surface. A variety of photographs and objects, some old and full of history, are embedded in the surface of the images.

The painting aspect in each image is minimal and apparent primarily in the animal figures and the atmospheric washes. The painting is good, almost great. While there is a sense of care in the craft of the painting, the animals often look copied from nature photographs. This makes the animal seem out of place, more like collage than painting. This is evident in the larger work which contains an elephant with odd dark shadows indicative of bright sunlight. It’s not bad, it’s more eerie, and begs the question “Why paint at all rather than only collage?”

Several of the images are fantastically executed. In one, a black bear peers over a small ridge in the bottom left of the image, at a fort of sorts, which has been constructed there by the artist. Each element is made with simplicity in mind and the composition is seamless. In another, beneath the layers of wax, doodles and sketchy drawings of building emerge, which are amazing and perfect for their contrasted purposeful marks.

Oberg does a great job of being wild and low key at the same time. Furthermore, her work is beautiful. Although a few seem arbitrarily aesthetic, which is to say highlighting design rather than content, the show is predominantly fun and immersive. Each poetic label is intriguing to read and allows the viewer to wallow in the artwork’s allegorical implications.

It is worth noting that The Mudhouse often has interesting artworks on display. Some shows have been more successful than others but this display is certainly a success. It  is nice to see a local gallery like Le Yeux De Monde working in collaboration with a local business to bring good art to the people.~Aaron Miller and Rose Guterbock