TOWN & COUNTRY - "The House that Stops Hamptons Traffic", March 2016
Design/Milk CMYLK - "Oona Ratcliffe’s Broken Topographies", February 2014
Short Fiction, The Visual Literacy Journal - Oona Ratcliffe Interview, Plymouth University and Arts Council England, Issue Six, 2012
ARTCRITICAL - "Oona Ratcliffe: Deep Forgetting at gallerynine5", Poem by Bill Berkson, March 2009
New York Magazine - Art Profile and Schedule, March 2009
Gallery Nine5 - "Oona Ratcliffe: Deep Forgetting", March 6 - 24, 2009
Apartment Therapy - "The Gallery: Oona Ratcliffe", September 2008
Chelsea Art Galleries - Galleries showing Oona Ratcliffe
ARTINFO - MetLife at Morgan Lehman, News & Features, March 2006
Morgan Lehman Gallery sources the MetLife Group Show, (Chelsea Gallery Directory) February 21, 2006 - April 1, 2006
Flavorpill - ART: Opening - MetLife, Cultural Stimuli in NYC - Issue 298: unexpected flavor, February 21-27, 2006
Susan Inglett Gallery presents the paintings of OONA RATCLIFFE from 14 October to 13 November 2004
ARTFORUM - Review by Martha Schwendener, October 2004
Oona Ratcliffe interview with: Short Fiction, The Visual Literacy Journal.
Plymouth University and Arts Council England, Issue Six. July 2012.
Interview by Anthony Caleshu
AC: What makes a successful painting for you?
OR: Many hours of looking and working. Materially it is a moment when the elements of the composition come together in a state of apprehension, stillness and simultaneous action. Like throwing a series of objects up into the air and capturing the moment when they are hovering – in motion but still. Some paintings’ success comes out of addressing more explosive energies – energy propelled centrifugally or centripetally.
I’m wondering about your compositional process. Is it organic or planned?
I start with drawing, as a work unto itself or as preparation for a painting. I use drawing to lay out a painting which morphs and evolves as a composition develops, the picture in large scale, building and deconstructing, torquing color relationships and structural elements. Finished paintings are then used to create new drawings. Information develops and accumulates working in the space of painting, information that can be taken back to drawings. This looping between works – recording of action developing in paintings, drawings pinpointing this action, developing things further, paintings moving yet further – makes visual subject matter, abstract language on flat two dimensional surfaces.
Has the work ever resisted your intentions to the point of failure or abandonment?
Paintings and drawings can be either too weak in their simplicity or overly worked in complexity so that the information – marks – begin to simply cancel one another out, or the color muddies and lacks clarity and light. Hopefully it is possible to save a piece by working through moments like these, repainting, taking out information. The challenge can be satisfying or very frustrating, inevitably very time-consuming and producing some anxiety in the struggle. I sometimes feel that if moments like these do not occur in a work it won’t have the potential to be a successful piece. A lot of power comes out of resolving conflict. Failure may come as well so one must know when it is best to let go.
There are moments when the abstract almost becomes topographical, as if you’re mapping a landscape. Could you talk about your project in terms of ‘mapping’?
It is curious that you would bring up the question of mapping. For a long period of time when I was traveling by plane between where I live in New York City to where my family lives in rural northern California I would use the time in the air to draw and photograph the amazing structures of land below. The study of topography was a great source of inspiration and a continuation of my early work as a landscape painter. As my painting activities began to be more studio focused and my imagery increasingly based in language developed painting-to-painting, elements of mapping in the work became more abstract. Sometimes the paintings appear to examine a cross sectional slice of the flesh... sometimes the cellular structure of ice, sometimes the underwater interaction of plants moving in their aqueous environment.
Text, in the form of single words, appears on the canvas in several pieces. And there’s certainly an interest in language in your titles. How are language and image related for you?
Language appearing in paintings is something relatively new for me. It started as a fascination with words, their meanings and definitions and a desire to ground paintings built with marks with something seemingly concrete, language. The use of text imbues paintings with new layers of meaning, words introducing an entire set of semiological meaning. Often the word painted is obfuscated by marks, hidden within the painting. If a viewer allows some time in front of a work they might discover what could be a bit of text, lurking in the composition of the piece – provoking questions as to whether it defines the action of the painting, let alone initiating the mysterious question of discovering what the word is (which is not always clear). Sometimes a word is simply sitting as its unadulterated self. In this case it exerts a reflective pressure against the image in the work.
NY Critics Picks. 2004
By Martha Schwendener
Oona Ratcliffe's paintings are like contemporary Kandinskys: big, symphonic orchestrations of color and line that seem rooted in landscape, but skirt any concrete representation. Their colors are appropriately updated to reflect myriad palettes, from Neo-Geo's bold, clear primaries to the recent reincarnation of New Wave's neon squiggles and flourishes. Ratcliffe's compositions look computer-generated, recalling the work of contemporary painters who use digital technologies as sketchpads. Her titles—Drench Revelation, Intimacy Accompaniment, In the Blue of Its Eyes, I Can Be the River (all works 2004)—seem like attempts to add layers of allusion where none are needed, and one longs for the judicious reserve of Kandinsky's numbered "Compositions" and "Improvisations." Ratcliffe keeps the fever pitch of her painting at the same level through nine large canvases, and that's a feat that speaks for itself.