Order and Chaos: Rich and Rewarding Work at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art

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Order and Chaos, at Orange County Center of Contemporary art through this Saturday, is a supremely lovely show, visually rich and full of life; infused with the wonders of science and the intensity of the artistic process.

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Artist and curator Annie Clavel notes that the show is a continuation of her past work, Parallel Universes, and is built around the scientific concept of “chaos theory.”

“I have always been impressed by how a simple equation in mathematics could burst into an incredible never ending complexity, like fractals,” Clavel says. 

The French-born artist, now based in Long Beach, explains that chaotic systems, such as fractals, can appear smooth and ordered. Fractals themselves are a never ending pattern, created by a simply, repeating process in a perpetual feedback loop, and as such are pictures of chaos.

As fascinating as this is – particularly when viewers recognize that Clavel is a scientist and mathematician as well as an artist – the exhibition works purely on its visual beauty, with a surreal and swirling palette.

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Above, Clavel’s watercolor “Oasis,” is part flower, part imploded planet; mysterious and fecund with a glowing life force.

Below,  Osuna’s work in oil, “Conundrum,” seems to draw viewers inside darker unfolding, a velvety night, an imploded star.

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Clavel and Miguel Osuna started working on their show a year ago, sharing information and ideas about its theme.

“We knew each other work quite well. His paintings are monochromatic and huge. My paintings are colorful and most of them are small. It’s this diversity that looked like a perfect fit,” Clavel relates.

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Above, Clavel’s series of small paintings are intimate, perfectly wrought abstract works.

“The display is not chaotic, but the diversity goes into the direction of chaos. I would like that the viewer feels harmony and disproportion, balance and imbalance, order and chaos,” Clavel says.

Osuna’s oil on aluminum works, below, seem to have absorbed both light and color within their surface, works whose form are as yet inchoate, but seem in the process of definition.

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Osuna views his work as intuitive. An architect, his desire is to create order from chaos in his art.

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Clavel’s “Lava 3” is a fiery, volcanic rush; contrasting with work such as this is Osuna’s “Rule of Thumb,” below, is an equally intense work, but far different in style and approach – this is lava that has cooled and formed a more cohesive pattern.

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“His paintings in this show are conversing with mine, even if they are very different. Many viewers have expressed that Miguel’s paintings were order and mine were chaos. It is not: both of us have experienced in different ways order being chaos or chaos being order,” Clavel attests. “I hope that the viewer can feel the cohesion of our experimentations.”

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Above, Clavel’s “Cosmology 3” appears to be in perpetual motion. Thick, lush colors evoke a world viewers could almost touch. Below, her “Thunder” throbs with the power of a raging sea.

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Over the course of their preparations for the show, Osuna and Clavel both shared photos of their works and their concept on Instagram, #OrderAndChaosShow

Osuna says that his latest explorations on surface, reflexion and glare allow him to create his own mini-universe.  “I can represent both my understanding and my questioning of the universe at large. Ultimately, my hope is that the viewer shares this microcosm with me, searching for the same ideas, solutions, and emotions that connect us.” This view drew Clavel’s interest at a time in which she was still working on her previous series.

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Above, Clavel’s “Playing Dice.”

“I thought that we could do something about ‘Universes,’ however I wanted to change the direction of my work,” she attests. “At that time I was reading a few books written by mathematicians, such as What we Cannot Know by Marcus du Sautoy and Does God Play Dice? by Ian Stewart. Those books inspired me to think about the way the universe behaves, and that’s how the idea of a show about Order and Chaos came to my mind.” 

Clavel invited Osuna to participate in her show as a guest artist.

The result is a show that shimmers with light, form, color, and mystery – the very essence of chaotic impulses that are the basis for creativity. If the world formed from chaos and became ordered, then the world of art, with all its passion and chaos, creates order in the form of channeled artistic impulse.

A conversation with artists Annie Clavel and Miguel Osuna will take place Sept. 23rd, 2017 – 2 to 4 pm, moderated by Jill Moniz.

The gallery is located at 117 N. Sycamore in Santa Ana.

  • Genie Davis; photos courtesy of the artists