Words > Selected Catalog Essays and Press

Sabina Ott's Gutsy Paintings Convey Struggle and Adversity

"Your eyes don't glide across the colorful surfaces of Sabina Ott's new paintings so much as they get stuck - like a truck in the mud - in the clunky passages of congealed wax the artist has dumped, spilled and splashed over large wood panels. Sometimes cutting through its thick, semi-translucent layers to the gritty grain of the wood below, and at other times wadding leftover scraps into crude sculptural reliefs, Ott builds meaty pictures whose garish colors ensure that they're not far from the fainthearted.

Hardly seductive and anything but delicate, these gutsy paintings at Mark Moore Gallery neither retreat to the background like bashful, well-mannered wallflowers nor stand out for being conventionally pretty. They appeal to something deeper than superficial attractiveness.

Although Ott's obstinate images of lumpy flowers, fragmented words and colliding stripes are a hairbreadth away from being ugly, they embody a sense of willful determination familiar to anyone who has ever struggled for something that did not come easy. Facility and effortlessness are nowhere to be found among the brash abstract patterns that fight for your attention in these feisty works. Rough around the edges - and all the way through - they highlight the fact that talent is not all that it takes to get the job done.

At the heart of Ott's earnest work is the conviction that sticking to a task by rising above daily frustrations is its own reward. A working-class romanticism and an honest, plow-through-the-hardships integrity take shape in her art, which shares as much with the manual activities or artisanship as it does with the cerebral theories of decoration it also embodies.

Ott's unsubtle paintings leave no room for bitterness or resentment. Holding pride of place for hard-won satisfactions, the elements that make up her piece-meal compositions galumph across their surfaces with infectious verve. Finesse is fine, they seem to say, but when push comes to shove, muscling your way through adversity can't be beaten - especially when it leads to the winner's circle, which, like Ott's art, is adorned with bouquets and filled with sweetness."

David Pagel
L.A. Times
January 15, 2000

Sabina Ott's Gutsy Paintings Convey Struggle and Adversity
by David Pagel
L.A. Times