SRG Fine Art
For Valda Oestreicher, the formal elements of painting, such as composition, line, texture, shape, and color, are guiding principles, even when the final product appears to be abstract. "I like to set up a beautiful composition," comments Oestreicher, "and basically see where it takes me. I am enthralled with the freshness and beautiful color of lemons – as well as limes and pomegranates. These fruits have a vibrancy and freshness that stems from the shape, texture, and color. I have a need for a deep direct interpretation rather than a detailed focus. I relate sensually to what's there. My work becomes nature abstracted in a direct way."
Oestreicher then selects a variety of plates and bowls, "rich in character" in their own right, and exotic fabric backgrounds, acquired over years of travel around the world. "I like to express the joy in what I see, the exuberance of color and shape."
Oestreicher grew up in a large town in Ontario, finding fine art the easiest of subjects in high school. "I spent a lot of time on my assignments. I didn't consider it academic subject matter."
At McMaster University, she studied both studio art and art history. "I really thought it was very important to understand art history – and I loved every minute of learning about it all. Particularly when studying twentieth-century art, I eagerly devoured all the modern art periods. I wanted to understand the artists, what they were actually trying to do, in order to understand myself as an artist."
She highlights Matisse's color and joyousness; Cèzanne's "color relationships in every square inch", and Gauguin's "directness and resonating depth of color which is beyond nature." She notes, "I learn from what I experience in their artwork."
Lemons and Violet is typical of Oestreicher's still life painting. She takes "disparate elements, turning them into a coherent whole." In this painting, the lemons draw the eye with a forthright immediacy. "I adore the lemon color – sunshine," she says. Oestreicher then plays with the complementarity of violet tones: A blue and white striped fabric and a South African market textile provide an abstract background, and the quotidian salt shaker, bowls, and vase, all resized to satisfy compositional properties, provide balance to the painting.
"I like the tension of opposites," she says. She comments on the theme of soft versus hard, "the definite gravity of the hard edges and stripes" juxtaposed with the sensuous curving of pattern, light, and shape.
Oestreicher enjoys what she calls painting's "ambiguity of perspective": Much of the painting involves seeing the shapes from above, yet there is the adamant straight-on view of the vase. She feels that a painting is complete when there is a "beautiful end result – a beautiful synthesis – from the elements which I see." How does she know when she's achieved this synthesis in a painting? "It makes my spirit soar and rest at the same time. "
George Bernard Shaw wrote, "You see things; and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?".