Haynes Galleries presents “Teresa Oaxaca: Exuberance”
June 30 to August 13, 2016
Reception: Thursday, 5 p.m. to 7:30 pm, June 30, 2016

THOMASTON—A contemporary artist unlike any other is bringing her dramatic work to Haynes Galleries. Teresa Oaxaca’s colorful neo-Baroque figurative paintings will soon be on display in “Teresa Oaxaca: Exuberance.” This solo show of Oaxaca’s work opens June 30 and continues until August 13 in Thomaston. It is presented concurrently with “John Baeder: Work from 1962 to 2015.” An opening reception will be held June 30 from 5 to 7:30 pm. The exhibition and opening are free and open to the public.

Oaxaca (pronounced wa-HAH-ka) began her artistic journey at the Florence Academy of Art from which she graduated in 2010 and where she later taught Life Drawing. She further honed her skill by studying under renowned artists and exploring the great museums of Europe. Now based in Washington, D.C., she travels around the U.S. and Europe teaching artist workshops and working on her original paintings.

Many adjectives can be used to describe Teresa Oaxaca’s work— playful, theatrical, magical, feminine, escapist— but no single descriptor perfectly encapsulates her paintings. Her elaborate compositions combine costumed and heavily made-up figures reminiscent of Rococo, Victorian, or Romantic characters with still life elements to create pastel-hued vignettes of drama. Painted with the realist accuracy of a classically-trained artist, they also have a painterly touch that reveal Oaxaca’s own hand. They are visually unlike any other work being created today, a testament to Oaxaca’s vision as an artist.

Evocatively posed and accompanied by period accessories like antique dolls, Oaxaca’s models emote wistfulness, yearning, and sorrow. Oaxaca says she doesn’t always have a particular idea in mind when she begins a painting. “Frequently my compositions are spontaneous,” she says. There’s a general beginning point but “arrangements form from there until, with excitement, I see and have the idea. The design is both planned and subconscious.” That is why Oaxaca keeps her collection of vintage clothing and objects on hand when she paints. 

She collects from the time periods she believes figure painting was at its strongest, particularly the Victorian era. “My interest with the Victorian era comes from all of the fascinating movements that arose from it, including naturalism, symbolism, art nouveau, and bravura brushwork," Oaxaca explains. 

The work in “Exuberance” will reflect these sources of interest and marry emotion with allegorical storytelling. Character, craftsmanship, and bright colors shine like large scale paintings like Venetian Carnival. In a silken pink dress worthy of Marie Antoinette, a young woman reclines on a bed of fabrics with yellow roses, masks, a nutcracker and more strewn around her. The painting’s brightness and busyness shock on their own but the woman’s extravagant wig and painted face— powdered white with pink cheeks and lips— draws you in as she stares down at the viewer from her vulnerable position.

Where Venetian Carnival speaks to the pleasures and excess of Carnival, Sleepwalkers explores the line between control and consciousness. Darker in theme and color palette, the painting depicts a seated man propping up a girl in a ruffly dress. With a slight smile on his face, the tuxedoed man holds the girl’s arms out while her body dangles nearly limp. She’s his prop, a pretty little thing to move and entertain— an appropriate stake away as Oaxaca says she was intrigued by puppets and marionettes during the time she painted it. 

Oaxaca will also show beautifully composed still lifes and expressive drawings during “Exuberance.” Of her drawings many are closeups of her model’s faces. With sleepy eyes or mouths agape, they are mesmerizing. Oaxaca’s quick and confident hand is apparent in these drawings— the charcoal lines dance and dart lending the images an invigorating energy. Her still lifes incorporate many of the same objects as her figurative pieces like flowers, dolls, and masks but have a more macabre tone as they are set against intensely dark backgrounds, have dramatic lighting, and sometimes feature animals skull—all of which is skillfully assembled. 

Whether in charcoal or oil, Oaxaca’s work will keep visitors to Haynes Galleries in Maine on their toes. During “Exuberance” they’ll escape the natural world and step into Oaxaca’s vision where old meets new and where formal meets fanciful.